Since this is rapidly becoming a right-wing talking point, can someone please point me to the Canadian legislation that requires that any surplus be used to pay down the national debt?
Really, if such a law exists, surely someone can provide a pointer. It's not a tough question.
SURVEY SAAAAAAAYS ... that this "required by law" talking point is pure bullshit. No one has been able to point to a single piece of legislation that "requires" any surplus to be directed in its entirety to the reduction of the national debt.
On the other hand, there's this, which might be what the residents of Lower Wankerville are getting so thoroughly confused by (emphasis added):
Prime Minister Stephen Harper today announced one of the largest reductions in the federal debt in Canadian history and said the resulting effective interest savings will be used to reduce personal income taxes as required by law under the Government’s Tax Back Guarantee.
Well, now, that's enlightening ... the "Tax Back Guarantee" has nothing to do with where a surplus must be applied, only with what must be done with the interest savings, which is (as I'm sure anyone who is not a moron can see) a completely different thing. In short, all this "required by law" nonsense is exactly that -- nonsense, a classic bait and switch. And once again, the Canadian MSM got suckered by it.
I am so not surprised by this anymore.
BY THE WAY, I'm not even going to go looking for which Blogging Tories have been pushing this myth. There's only so much depressing wingnutiness one can handle.
THE READERS WRITE: E-mailer HCT weighs in:
There is no legislation on how any surplus is handled. NO government in it's right mind would enact it because it would tie their hands and the hands of subsequent governments forever ad infinitum ("forever, without limit, to infinity") or until the legislation was either repealed or overridden. Politicians are not fools.
The "Tax Back Guarantee" was contained in the 2007 Budget. Per the Canadian government website, Budget Plan, Chapter 4 (Budget 2007):
A New Approach to Allocating Surpluses
Budget 2006 acknowledged concerns over the transparency of federal budget planning. In Advantage Canada, the Government introduced a Tax Back Guarantee to ensure that all Canadians benefit directly from federal debt reduction through lower taxes. Budget 2007 goes further by proposing to legislate the Tax Back Guarantee. This ensures that as the Government reduces its debt, it will be required to use the interest savings from this debt reduction to lower personal income taxes. Any unplanned surpluses will be applied to reduce federal debt, and all associated interest savings will be used to further reduce personal income taxes. The Tax Back Guarantee makes more transparent for Canadians how the Government intends to use federal surpluses and ensures that such surpluses directly benefit Canadians.
This is only good for the 2007 fiscal year budget and will be overridden, unless repeated by the 2008 budget.
I don't understand all this foofarah. Martin was doing this for years, as finance minister and PM with one exception. He put a whack of money from the surplus against the debt, then took the balance of the surplus and instead of tax breaks, put the money into other government programs (health, equalization etc.)
So, once again, absolutely nothing about paying down the debt with surplus as required by law. Note, though, how Robert McClelland points out that any surplus must go to paying down the debt if that surplus is still sitting around at the end of the fiscal year, March 31. But that in no way constrains anyone from using any part of that surplus between now and then for whatever they want. In short, Stephen Harper is simply lying here.
Don't look so shocked -- you'd think you'd be used to that by now.