Is Harper back?
Paul Wells says that he is.
The 2009 budget projected that direct program expenses — the money the feds spend on programs and not on transfers to people or to provinces and territories — would total $121.8 billion in 2013-2014. Today’s budget projects only $113.7 in direct program expenses for 2013-14. Total program expenses — direct plus transfers — for 2013-2014 were projected at $254 billion in 2009. Today’s budget puts the number at $249 billion.
The government is holding the line, and in fact trimming it ever so slightly. Its long-term plan has always been to constrain the ability of any future government to create big new programs in areas of provincial jurisdiction like health, education or social services. I use a few names for this strategy, including “flat-tire federalism.” The 2008-09 economic uproar blew Harper off track. But he’s back.
So… what say you? Is he?
The libertarians say that program spending has gone from $276B to $276.1B — an increase of $100M.
Is that good?