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Art Threat: One Month Later – How the 2012 Federal Budget Impacts the Arts

With the release of the 2012 federal budget one month behind us you’ve likely captured the gist of the budget – cuts to the CBC and none to the Canada Council for the Arts. Here’s a full breakdown of how the cuts (and non cuts) affect arts and culture in Canada over the next three years, including an amalgamation of quotes and information from press releases and articles from cultural organizations over the last month. While some people indicated with a mix of relief and skepticism that the cuts were not as deep as they had anticipated, others called the

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The Progressive Economics Forum: The Federal Budget and Women

(The following is from my colleague Angella McEwen.)

The only mention of either men or women in the 400-odd page 2012 Budget Implementation Bill is with regards to the appropriate use of donated sperm and ova.

In analysis and discussions of the proposed omnibus bill, differential impacts for women, Aboriginals, racialized persons, newcomers, and *the poor* are frequently left out. It’s hard to blame anyone, there’s a lot to talk about in this whopper.

Still, it’s important to take a moment to ask not only what are the costs and benefits, but who benefits, and who pays the costs.

. . . → Read More: The Progressive Economics Forum: The Federal Budget and Women

The Progressive Economics Forum: PBO Strikes Again

I wanted to tip my hat to the hard working folks at the PBO for a particularly revealing Economic and Fiscal Outlook that was published today. While the PBO has more than once eaten my lunch on various issue they’ve done a superb job of looking at Canada’s economic and fiscal position.

I’d point readers of this blog particularly to page 2 where the impact of budget cutbacks, both federally and provincially, are aggregated, not only in their real GDP impact, but also in their employment impact. That is to say that when governments cut spending, jobs are lost as

. . . → Read More: The Progressive Economics Forum: PBO Strikes Again

The Progressive Economics Forum: Katimavik

I am sure readers of this blog are not unsympathetic to the case for a government supported program which, at a time of very high youth unemployment, annually enables some 1500 young people to volunteer to work in not for profit sponsored community development projects across the country. Participants- aged 17 to 21 – are usually engaged in two projects outside their home community over six months.

The government claims that the program is too costly. But Katimavik’s numbers show that their $16 Million annual budget generates some $14 Million per year in community benefits, and that is before taking

. . . → Read More: The Progressive Economics Forum: Katimavik

The Progressive Economics Forum: Federal Job Cuts…the Real Numbers

Thankfully the federal budget has started to fill in some of the details of its latest round of cuts. In particular, it now estimates 19,200 positions lost due to its latest round of cuts (Federal Budget 2012, pg 221). Although it is nice to have an initial estimate, this hardly show the full picture as it excludes the other two rounds of cuts that overlap on the 2012 version. See Table 1 for the full cut details

Table 1: All Cuts ($mil)   2011-12 2012-13 2013-14 2014-15 2007 Strategic Reviews

395

403

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The Progressive Economics Forum: The Federal Budget Impact on Jobs

The Budget estimate that a new round of cuts will eliminate up to 19,200 jobs has been widely cited as fact, but it cannot be taken at face value as argued in an analysis released by the Public Service Alliance of Canada. An extract follows:

 

The government claims the $5.2 billion in spending cuts will mean the loss of 19,200 public service jobs. It says 7,000 of those will be dealt with through attrition. But how does the government know how many people will actually retire? Given the high household debt levels and uncertainty felt by most public

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The Progressive Economics Forum: OAS, the Budget and the Baby Boomers

The Budget justifies raising the age of eligibility for OAS and GIS on the grounds that the long-term fiscal sustainability of the program is being undermined by rising life expectancy.

No estimates of savings are provided. They will be very modest.

Given that average life expectancy at age 65 is 20 years, raising the eligibility age by two years could only save a maximum of 10% of projected spending on future retirees if implemented immediately.

However, the government proposes to phase in the increased eligibility age between 2023 and 2029 which will hugely reduce any savings relative to current projections.

. . . → Read More: The Progressive Economics Forum: OAS, the Budget and the Baby Boomers

The Progressive Economics Forum: Budget 2012: Pennywise But Pound Foolish

Marc, Andrew and Toby have posted substantial analyses of yesterday’s federal budget, but here are my two cents about its economic forecasts.

Table 2.1 envisions a 7.5% unemployment rate this year, slightly above last year’s rate of 7.4%. That seems like an admission of failure from a budget ostensibly about job creation.

This table also projects real GDP growth rates of 2.3% in Canada versus 2.6% in the U.S. over the next five years. The higher American figure may well be realistic given that the U.S. economy is starting to bounce back from

. . . → Read More: The Progressive Economics Forum: Budget 2012: Pennywise But Pound Foolish

BigCityLib Strikes Back: The Budget And The Environment: The Deniers Liked It

 A statement from the ICSC: Canadian federal Budget a step forward on climate change

Ottawa, Canada, March 29, 2012: “The International Climate Science Coalition (ICSC) congratulates the Government of Canada for removing from the federal Budget the misleading language of previous Budgets concerning clean air and climate change,” said Tom Harris, executive director ICSC which is headquartered in Ottawa, Canada. “In past years, this serious science mistake, appearing repeatedly in such an important document, contributed to public confusion about the distinctly different approaches needed to address these two issues.

Meanwhile, what the budget means for the future of the Northern

. . . → Read More: BigCityLib Strikes Back: The Budget And The Environment: The Deniers Liked It

The Progressive Economics Forum: Conservatives’ small-minded budget kills jobs and fails Canadians

Here’s the budget analysis I prepared for CUPE’s website.

Despite its size and the hundreds of measures it details, Harper’s 2012 budget demonstrates just how small-minded their vision is. Canada faces major challenges, with 1.4 million unemployed, stagnant productivity growth, a crisis in retirement security and growing inequality.

Instead of addressing these challenges, what this budget provides is more of their failed economic policies, deep job-killing budget cuts, cuts to public pensions and a highlight: getting rid of the penny.

Not only is Harper using his new majority power to reduce the size and scope of the

. . . → Read More: The Progressive Economics Forum: Conservatives’ small-minded budget kills jobs and fails Canadians

The Progressive Economics Forum: CLC Analysis of the 2012 Budget

Introduction Budgets are all about choices. With unemployment and underemployment still at very high levels and a shrinking middle-class, the federal government could and should have laid the basis for a sustained and broadly shared economic recovery. The federal government should be taking a larger and stronger role in making the economy work for average Canadians, and developing policies that ensure that all Canadians can afford their basic needs in tough times. Instead, we got a budget that cuts jobs rather than creates jobs; which attacks needed public services and social programs; and undermines rather than enhances retirement security.

As

. . . → Read More: The Progressive Economics Forum: CLC Analysis of the 2012 Budget

cmkl: The federal budget: spite and bile to pump up the base

So it turns out all the nasty rumours were actually true.

The Progressive Economics Forum: A budget that screws the planet for short-term profits

First off, the 2012 federal budget that makes no upfront claim to be a budget. Indeed, the cover states only “Economic Action Plan 2012: Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity.” While we have been accustomed in recent years to budgets with their own titles, this one does not actually say “Budget” anywhere. This frames it more a framework economic document that includes gutting of environmental assessment in the name of the economy.

This is a colonial vision of the economy as a quarry for foreign interests. Instead of ensuring development of resources in a manner consistent with real long-term needs

. . . → Read More: The Progressive Economics Forum: A budget that screws the planet for short-term profits

cmkl: Cut staff but not services? That’s unpossible

Now when I was a journalist, if someone made an assertion as daft as the one above, I would have left it out of the story just because it made no sense. But if you’re CTV, you apparently leave it as the lead.

The Progressive Economics Forum: Alternative Federal Budget 2012

The following is a ten-point summary of the CCPA Alternative Federal Budget released today:

The federal government is planning an unprecedented fiscal austerity budget, claiming that massive cuts to public sector jobs, services, and social programs are necessary to pave the way for jobs and growth. But in fact the opposite is true. Austerity programs weaken the economy, and their implementation in many European countries has tipped the EU back into recession, fueled unemployment, and increased their debts and deficits.

There is a better way to make the federal budget work for the rest of us. The Alternative Federal

. . . → Read More: The Progressive Economics Forum: Alternative Federal Budget 2012

The Progressive Economics Forum: Severance Pay and Public Servants

I am an economist, not a lawyer or expert on the collective agreements in the federal public service, but I can still detect a hatchet job.

The CBC have given a lot of play to a Greg Weston story that allegedly generous severance payments to public servants amounting to as much as $2 Billion will be triggered by job cuts in the upcoming Budget.

“The Harper government’s plan to slash an estimated 30,000 public service jobs over the next three years includes hefty golden handshakes that could leave some federal workers laughing all the way to the bank.”

. . . → Read More: The Progressive Economics Forum: Severance Pay and Public Servants

The Progressive Economics Forum: Severance Pay and Public Servants

I am an economist, not a lawyer or expert on the collective agreements in the federal public service, but I can still detect a hatchet job.

The CBC have given a lot of play to a Greg Weston story that allegedly generous”severance payments to public servants amounting to as much as $2 Billion will be triggered by job cuts in the upcoming Budget.

“The Harper government’s plan to slash an estimated 30,000 public service jobs over the next three years includes hefty golden handshakes that could leave some federal workers laughing all the way to the bank.”

No

. . . → Read More: The Progressive Economics Forum: Severance Pay and Public Servants

DeSmogBlog: Big Oil Rakes In Billions, Still Complains Taxes Are Too High

20080810-violin.jpg

The President rolled out his FY2013 budget recently, which includes eliminating $40 billion in tax breaks from Big Oil companies, such as BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, and Shell. Meanwhile, the American Petroleum Institute's response would have you believe that cutting the subsidies would be the equivalent of moving back into their parents' basement.

It's propaganda at its most repetitive, crying that they are "job creators" and that it's so "unfair" to raise taxes because they already contribute millions to the economy every day, and if you do they swear to god prices will rise and the inevitable

. . . → Read More: DeSmogBlog: Big Oil Rakes In Billions, Still Complains Taxes Are Too High

The Progressive Economics Forum: The Times they Are a Changing: The MMT Wave Begins

Take a look at the picture below. Take it in. Now scan your eyes to the far right…there, in faded blue you’ll see the initials MMT. Now zoom out. Take it in again. Notice: a few hundred people. Spending their time learning about an economic theory called Modern Monetary Theory or MMT and its application to the European debacle. Now where does that happen? In this case, Italy. Normally, never.

But something is changing out there. Economic necessity is opening people to new ideas, just like it did in the 1930s, just like

. . . → Read More: The Progressive Economics Forum: The Times they Are a Changing: The MMT Wave Begins

The Progressive Economics Forum: EI Shrank by 100,000 in 2011

Statistics Canada reported today that the number of Canadians receiving Employment Insurance rose by 4,230 in December, a month in which unemployment rose by 6,100. The proportion of unemployed workers receiving benefits remained below 39% (i.e. 544,720 beneficiaries out of 1.4 million unemployed).

Although December saw relatively little change in these totals, it capped off a year in which Canada’s EI system sharply contracted. During 2011 as a whole, the number of EI recipients fell by 109,350 while the number of unemployed workers declined by just 11,700.

The implication is that many newly unemployed workers were unable to

. . . → Read More: The Progressive Economics Forum: EI Shrank by 100,000 in 2011

The Progressive Economics Forum: In the Wake of the Crisis: Bully Capitalism

A shorter version of this article appears today at Economy Lab, the Globe and Mail’s on-line business feature.

Capitalism has entered an ugly new era, one that may work well for the shareholders of world, but not for the rest of us.

I couldn’t help but notice that, on the very same day Caterpillar shuttered the doors of its London, Ontario locomotive plant and headed to low-wage Indiana, the Wall Street Journal reported federal corporate tax receipts as a share of profits had dropped to their lowest level in at least 40 years in the US. Sadly, that’s

. . . → Read More: The Progressive Economics Forum: In the Wake of the Crisis: Bully Capitalism

The Progressive Economics Forum: Is The OAS/GIS Program Unaffordable?

No. Of course not. Even if the government waves around scary large increases in nominal dollar terms.

As has been widely reported, the most recent OAS actuarial report shows that total program expenditures will rise from $38.8 billion in 2011 to $107.9 billion in 2030. However, the dollar figure reflects, not just an increase in the number of OAS beneficiaries (from 4.9 million to 9.3 million), but also inflation. And the economy will grow over the same period.

As a share of GDP, the program cost is forecast to increase from 2.36% in 2011, to

. . . → Read More: The Progressive Economics Forum: Is The OAS/GIS Program Unaffordable?

The Progressive Economics Forum: Federal cuts could push unemployment to 8%

Now that the government is planning for an $8 billion cut, the potential job losses could drive job losses to between 99,000 and 108,000 full time positions across Canada. At this much higher level, the federal government could be single-handedly responsible for pushing national unemployment from its current 7.5% to 8.0%. About half of those losses would be federal public servants and half would be in the private sector (crown corporations, non-profits and government contractors).

The full post is available here

The Progressive Economics Forum: The Focus of the Federal Budget Must Be Jobs, Not Cuts.

 

The Mark have published a pre Budget commentary from yours truly.

The Progressive Economics Forum: Cost of Inequitable Tax Loopholes Increases

Finance Canada published its annual Tax Expenditure Report for 2011 and it shows that the cost of some of the most inequitable tax preferences and loopholes continues to rise.

For instance the stock option deduction, which allows CEOs and executives to pay tax at half the rate of ordinary working income, is estimated to cost the federal government $725 million last year.

I’d written about this major problems with this tax preference a number of times before. Not only is it highly inequitable, but it also fuels speculative behaviour and short-term behaviour.

Now even Roger Martin, dean of U of

. . . → Read More: The Progressive Economics Forum: Cost of Inequitable Tax Loopholes Increases