Saturday, March 27, 2010

Jason Kenney and Grover Norquist are Living the Dream

A CULTURE OF DEFIANCE: History of the Reform-Conservative Party of Canada

In 1995, Jason Kenney, then head of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, criss-crossed the country promoting his anti-tax philosophies. In fact when he was first named president of the CTF, some anti-tax groups lauded him as their hero.

While claiming to be a non-profit advocacy group:

.... the CTF in reality is neither a grassroots movement nor a democratically run organization. One critic has actually described it as 'more of a pyramid sales group than a bottom-up grassroots movement,' and an examination of CTF recruiting tactics explains why."Incredibly, the entire operation of the CTF depends on the recruitment of new members by some sixty-five salespeople operating on commissions .... In 1991 the Consumers' Association of Canada issued a warning about the CTF, noting that approximately 59.5 per cent of membership fees went to the CTF sales force, field managers and 'consultant' .... (1)
Most of their funding comes from corporate donors, a list they protect like the holy grail.

... well-known tax expert Neil Brooks has stated, the CTF's 'anti-tax rhetoric disguises a view that government should play a minimal role' ... David Perry of the Canadian Tax Foundation ... notes that much of the group's anti-tax sentiment is based on ignorance of the actual situation in Canada .... a perception of reality, rather than reality' .... "Many other tax experts ... have also pointed out that the benefits received from government in exchange for taxes have to be taken into account ... Kenney's response to this, however is instructive. 'We only look at taxes, not benefits'... leading Brooks and many other critics to conclude that the CTF agenda is simply lower taxes, not fairer taxes." (1)

As part of his little tour, he met up with Mike Harris who signed a pledge not to raise taxes if elected. He kept his promise, but between Harris and Guy Giorno, they almost destroyed Ontario, driving record numbers to be forced to live on the street.

But then Jim Flaherty came to the rescue suggesting that homelessness should be made a crime. I agree, except that he meant it literally and wanted to toss them all in jail.

Not the brightest bulb on the tree, because the cost to house them in jail would far exceed providing them with a home.

But remember, it's not about fairer taxes just lower taxes.


Grover Norquist

In 2000 Grover Norquist criss-crossed the country to build support for a policy that would deliver $1.35 trillion dollars in tax cuts over ten years. As founder of Americans for Tax Reform, he had helped to get George Bush elected, on the promise of cutting corporate taxes.

Once elected, Norquist wanted to make sure that he could count on Bush, and the man delivered. As a result, the 400 richest multi-millionaires received tax breaks worth an average of one million dollars a year, a total of $58 billion in tax cuts to the wealthiest 1 per cent of the population. (2)

But like Jason Kenney and the Canadian Taxpayer Federation, this is only part of a larger agenda.

When Bush took office he was left with a surplus of 8 trillion dollars and the debt clock at Times Square had to be taken down, because Clinton had eliminated it. There was also trillions more in state public pension funds. Grover Norquist, architect of Bush's economic policy, had his eye on this money as well.

George Bush has followed to the letter the first two planks of Norquist's three-step formula for transforming government. First, he has radically cut taxes, especially to the rich, thus creating huge deficits. Secondly, he has used these deficits as an excuse to slash non-defence spending.

Now is the time for the third step. State by state, Norquist told the Nation's Robert Dreyfus, and at the federal level, he and Bush will be dismantling and privatizing public pension funds and "liberating" the trillions of dollars now held in trust for retirees. Referring to those who believe in public services such as public pension funds, Norquist stated, "We want to take that power and destroy it." (3)

When Stephen Harper first took office there was a surplus of 13 billion dollars. Since then his government "has followed to the letter the first two planks of Norquist's three-step formula for transforming government. First, he has radically cut taxes, especially to the rich, thus creating huge deficits. "

The Harper government's Halloween mini-budget contains corporate tax cuts that Finance Minister Jim Flaherty boasts are "much deeper and much faster than ever contemplated before". By 2012, the corporate tax rate will drop to 15% - almost half the 28% rate in 2000. The small business tax rate will fall to 11%. What's it worth? More than $13 billion annually in lost revenue: enough to pay for the previous Liberal government's child care deals, the Kelowna Accord with original Peoples, the Canada-Ontario Agreement, and the offshore arrangements, which would have cost $5 billion over 5 years (CLC Submission to the House of Commons Finance Committee 2007 Pre-Budget Consultations). How low can we go? According to Flaherty, the goal is to lower Canada's corporate tax rates below every industrialized country in the world. That's something, considering that our combined federal/provincial corporate tax rate of 36% is already lower than Japan (41%), USA (40%), Germany (38%), and Italy (37%). Among the G-7 countries, only France (33%) and the UK (30%) are lower. (4)

Despite this:

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said the federal government will run deficits until at least 2015 -- two years longer than originally forecast. (5)

And this:

Canada's richest are getting richer: Given the tumultuous economy, we might have expected another year of the rich bleeding money, but they are actually making it - a lot of it. The wealthy Thomson clan is at the top of Canadian Business magazine's 11th annual RICH 100 ranking, having amassed roughly $21.99 billion, up 19% over last year. But that growth rate is nothing compared with Ivanhoe mining executive Robert Friedland's. The ranking's highest climber this year, his worth rose 217% to $1.59 billion and he jumped 61 spots to No. 32 in the RICH 100. (6)

But he will do this:

Faced with the largest federal deficit in history, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty says he will start looking for programs to axe and government assets to sell off as soon as the economy recovers."It's necessary for restraint to happen" to rein in Ottawa's spending, Flaherty told the Toronto Star in a year-end interview. (7)

It's all about reducing the government's capacity to take care of it's citizens. If they can spend the cupboard bare, they can use that as an excuse to cut programs.

"My goal is to cut government in half in twenty-five years, to get it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub." Grover Norquist

"Whether Canada ends up as o­ne national government or two national governments or several national governments, or some other kind of arrangement is, quite frankly, secondary in my opinion… And whether Canada ends up with o­ne national government or two governments or ten governments, the Canadian people will require less government no matter what the constitutional status or arrangement of any future country may be." Stephen Harper

It's about tearing down not building.


1. Hard Right Turn: The New Face of Neo-Conservatism in Canada, Brooke Jeffrey, Harper-Collins, 1999, ISBN: 0-00 255762-2, Pg. 416-417

2. Corrupt American-style capitalism: The Haves and the Have-Mores, George Bush, speaking at an $800 per plate fundraiser, October, 2000

3. Too Close for Comfort: Canada's Future Within Fortress North America, By Maude Barlow, McClelland & Stewart Ltd., 2005, ISBN: 0-7710-1088-5, Pg. 54

4. FLAHERTY DELIVERS HUGE CORPORATE TAX CUT, By Liz Rowle, The People's Voice, November 2007

5. Government to run deficits until 2015: Flaherty, CTV, September 10, 2009

6. Canada's richest are getting richer. Canada Business Magazine, November 19, 2009

7. Flaherty vows Harris-style cuts to fight deficit, Toronto Star, December 23, 2009

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