So, how do you cut government spending?
As part of its educational function it brought over two veterans of the 1995 budget to provide the Canadian equivalent of boasting. One, Jocelyn Bourgon, said the key to success lay in telling individual departments to review all their functions – \”nothing off the table\” – and come up with their own cuts. No targets, no common guidance from the PM\’s office, that would simply generate identikit answers.
The result was not \”shared misery\” across the board, but cuts that varied hugely, 15% on defence, health subsidies to the provinces gently curbed, transport halved, some ministries eliminated. Bourgon said no policy agenda works for ever and that the elite consensus is often wrong. But all countries have to evolve their own way forward, she added. In a week when mild Major called for a fundamental rethink of state functions and a 30% cut in British public spending, even Brown is admitting the need for some retrenchment. Cuts of 30%? They would take spending levels back to the late Blair era.
Work out what you\’re trying to do, stop doing the things that either you shouldn\’t be or are bad at doing (where other methods might be better) and thus slice away functions, not simply try to reduce across the board.
Entirely sensible. And don\’t forget, this is Michael White nodding approvingly at this.