Spend, spend, spend – what are politicians up to?

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Spend spend spend. That's what people do who can afford to, at this time of the year. Why though are our politicians following suit when the country is still deeply in the red?

Today - on the morning after that NHS spending promise before - the coalition pledged to spend billions more upgrading Britain's road network.

Anyone would think Britain no longer had a borrowing problem, but far from it. Today two independent economic forecasts predicted that the official figures for the deficit would have to be revised up as the country will be borrowing almost as much this year as it was a year ago.

On a visit to Airbus's factory in Stevenage, shadow chancellor Ed Balls told me that a Labour government would be "tough on the deficit and tough on the causes of the deficit too". In other words, he says there is a direct link between the country's deficit problem and what Labour has called the cost-of-living crisis.

He said: "The deficit is big and it's not come down the way the government promised. There's going to be tough decisions after the next election; there will have to be cuts.

"But we will make different choices. A Labour government will get the deficit down in a fairer way, but also we'll tackle the underlying cause of this problem because we now know low paid jobs, stagnating wages is not bringing in the tax receipts that the chancellor needs to get the deficit down.

"So we'll be tough on the deficit and the tough of the causes of the deficit too."

The independent Institute for Fiscal Studies say that Labour's laxer borrowing rules would allow them to spend up to £28bn a year more than the Tories.

That is something Ed Balls doesn't want to talk about, choosing instead to emphasise that "unlike George Osborne, I am not going to come along and make promises I can't know I can keep - unfunded commitments".

That, he told me, was the "only way to win public confidence… (to prove) that we can make a difference."

He argues that the Labour Party has, unlike the Tories, shown how it would spend more on the NHS - paid for, in part, by a tax on expensive homes or the so-called mansion tax.

I put it to him that it might take longer than a year to pass the law, value the homes and raise the money that way. His reply was deliberately vague: "I think we can do this very early in the next parliament…I'm not going to say we can do it on day one."

He could - and probably would - simply raise NHS spending by borrowing a little more in the short term until the mansion tax delivers the necessary funds. That, though, is not something he wants to say now.

It may not have escaped your notice that we are in the run up not just to Christmas but to a general election. It's a time when politicians like to talk about spend, spend, spend even though whoever's chancellor next year knows that they may have to cut, cut, cut, and raise taxes, taxes, taxes.