Why Conservatives Should Cut GST
“Mr. Speaker, the goods and services tax is a stupid, inept and incompetent tax.” — Former Liberal Prime Minister, Paul Martin, November 28th, 1989
When Stephen Harper slapped that 5% sticker over top of the 7% sign during the 2006 election campaign, he basically won the election right there and then. Many other variables combined to give the newly formed Conservative Party their first win, but that easy-to-understand tax cut resonated with average voters.
During the election campaign in October, Stephen Harper should announce that, should a second majority be attained, the GST will fall from 5% to 3% over the course of the next mandate.
10 reasons this is a good idea
#1. It worked in 2006, it can work again in 2015. Stick with what works and has proven to work.
#2. Voters understand this reduction. Shoppers across Canada love buying stuff. They also like getting good deals on the stuff they buy. They understand a reduction on a sales tax because it stares them straight in the face every time they need to purchase something. In short, this policy resonates with normal people.
#3. It further robs the provinces of the ability to raise their own taxes in order to offset something like an income tax cut. What’s the point of Harper promising to lower income taxes, if Premiers across the country negate it, by making up the difference in provincial income taxes? The tax cuts starve the Federal government, but don’t get into the wallets of ordinary people. Harper eats the revenue loss, but doesn’t receive any credit in the eyes of the normal voter. A GST cut gives people their money back and Harper takes the credit. Win-win.
#4. It will drive a clear wedge between the Conservative Party and the opposition. The Liberals are blathering on about running permanent deficits in order to spend more on “infrastructure”. The NDP despise any reduction in taxes. Normal people will see leftists on one side, telling them that they need to pay more for their flat screen t.v. because Canada needs a green powered train or something. Then they’ll look at Harper on the other side, offering them a discount on everything. It’s a beautiful political division.
#5. It will unleash leftist criticism. Egghead economists will come out of the ivory towers to tell Evan Solomon just how dumb the idea is. The Toronto Star will publish lengthy articles explaining why a higher GST is a good thing. Special interest groups will hate Harper harder. This is a good thing because…
#6. Normal people will see leftist elitists hating on a leader that is trying to give them their discount on everything. It will further alienate normal people from the left-of-centre political parties, because they’ll associate the arrogance and snark of the critics with the political parties that they favour. Normal people will see “populist Harper” taking heat from the usual leftist elitists and Harper will only look better by contrast. If this tactic works for normal people it will definitely…
#7. ...fire up the base! Nothing quite reminds hard-core conservatives that they need to stay involved in politics like having arrogant leftists telling them that keeping more of the money they’ve earned is a really bad thing. It’s always good when Liberals provide "beer & popcorn" statements. It’s so insulting and raw, for the base, when Liberals combine socialism with elitism and deride people who disagree. The cheque books come out and the voting booths are never empty.
#8. It will help attain a majority courtesy of the typical non-voter. Normal apolitical non-voters don’t care about policy nuance. They don’t care about much of anything, beyond their own lives. Offer them a GST cut and they wake up and get excited. Cheaper granite counter-tops baby! Rims for my truck! Where do I vote again?
#9. It will dominate the media. A late-in-the-game announcement about lowering the GST will change the chatter amongst the mainstream media. Doesn’t matter if the chatter is good or bad...what they’ll be talking about is ‘THE GST CUT’ and this is what headlines will advertise. Free advertising for the Conservative GST cut. Free!
#10. It will provide a goal. One of the biggest problems governments face as time goes on, is that they begin to tread water after their initial goals have been met. By setting up a challenging new tax cutting goal, the Conservatives will have something to move toward over the course of the next four year term.
Conclusion: The GST reduction needs to be a target. The biggest criticism will be the cost to government coffers (roughly $14 billion). This doesn’t matter, however, for a variety of reasons detailed here. A GST cut needs to be a part of the 2015 campaign.