Recently the media (notably Sky, the Australian and other Murdoch press), politicians and pundits have been on an all out war against Prime Minister Gillard and Labor’s policy to return the budget to surplus. They correctly assess this decision as one driven by politics and not economics. However, we should remember that quite a lot of the current dissenters would be criticising Labor even if the policy were reversed.To begin with, I must clarify that I agree with a lot of the criticism of this budget decision. In a time of global economic turmoil, when our lopsided economy is suffering from sliding commodity prices, unemployment is high, and the big banks are not complying with monetary policy it is hardly an opportune moment to take money (borrowed or otherwise) out of the economy and forgo fiscal policy in the pursuit of political expediency. It is especially ridiculous considering that we don’t live in a country where one of the parties is completely ideologically opposed to deficit spending to stimulate the economy. Situations change and many prominent economists are calling for either increased spending or at least maintenance of the current spending levels. This is the time for Labor to negate their promise (as they previously did with the Carbon Tax) and do what is right. All in all, it is a ridiculous move.
However, what I find particularly egregious about this whole saga is the legitimacy given to some of the people who are criticising Labor for playing politics. Especially when they are either just as guilty themselves or are the very same people who would be the ones criticising Labor for failing to live up to their election promises (if the position was reversed). The Murdoch empire, especially the (partisan) Australian, does not give Labor one inch of leniency, no matter the circumstances. The Liberals, just as any political opposition, are vehemently opposed to anything Labor proposes or does. Is there any doubt that both of these institutions would be criticising Labor for failing to live up to their promises if they had abandoned the policy? Yet even the legitimate media such as the Sydney Morning Herald and the ABC are giving their criticisms credence.
The criticism of Labor by the Murdoch and Liberal politicians etc. is very much warranted. The decision to restrain spending in the current climate is purely political and completely ridiculous. However, institutions that act almost purely along ideological and political lines should not be given legitimacy to attack their enemies for doing the same.