In the short space of the next four weeks, the Trudeau government will design not just a proposed economic recovery plan for Canada, but a lasting economic renaissance only a notch or two shy of Sir John A. Macdonald’s National Policy in its impact.
The government will present highlights of its plans for pandemic economic recovery in the Throne Speech that soon follows the return of Parliament Sept. 24. More details will come with an economic statement later in the fall, and we’ll see the plan in full in a budget next year.
You can be sure that this vision of a new Canadian economy will be bold.
Having promised a thoroughly overhauled post-pandemic economy, especially in strengthening the social safety net, the Liberals have gone all in. They can’t back down from it.
Given the minority status of the government, and a confidence vote it faces after the Throne Speech that they could lose, the country might find itself voting on the Liberals’ proposed economic renaissance in an election sooner than later.
An early sign of the government’s resolve is the $37-billion package of new income supports it unveiled Aug. 20. Those measures extend pandemic-related emergency payments far beyond those of a U.S. counterpart program, which ran dry weeks ago and show no sign of resumption, though millions of Americans remain out of work.
In that same announcement, made jointly by newly appointed Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland and Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough, Ottawa also introduced increased sick-leave, caregiver, and maternity benefits.
The backdrop for those enhanced protections is a Liberal plan, signalled by the government for several weeks, to effectively replace the antiquated Employment Insurance program with the more streamlined and user-friendly Canada Emergency Response Benefit, which will still go under the name EI.
How much further the party intends to take its planned reinvention of the economy will be determined by intense cabinet, caucus and bureaucratic negotiations over the next few weeks.
That will be a high-stakes exercise, bearing resemblance to the lead-up to Medicare’s rollout in 1965 and the advent of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1982.
The prospect of a snap election will influence those deliberations, of course.
But the Liberals seem intent on asking Canadians to consent to a sweeping economic renewal that tackles income inequality, climate crisis, immigration, economic sovereignty, industrial self-sufficiency, the gender-pay gap, Canada’s undernourished R&D sector and considerably more.
“The restart of our economy needs to be green,” Freeland said Aug. 20. “It also needs to be equitable, it needs to be inclusive, and we need to focus very much on jobs and growth.”
The Grits, in other words, are giving themselves an open-ended mandate for change, the ambition of which the country has seldom seen.
It’s fair to ask why they have embarked on this high-risk mission. It could see them reduced to opposition status in Parliament by this time next year if Canadians reject it.
- The Liberals are not proposing radical change. Every advance they will propose is an expansion or acceleration of existing Canadian priorities and practices.
On climate change, for instance, the Trudeau government wants to lay the groundwork for a Canada able to exploit the lucrative environmental industries that will help define the 21st century — a public- and private-sector project already underway but still in its infancy.
And for the Grits, economic sovereignty largely takes the form of self-sufficiency in essentials like medical supplies that were long ago outsourced abroad.
Ottawa is also worried that Canada will suffer competitive disadvantage if it doesn’t match the heavy investments that Europe is making — during the pandemic, no less — in upgrading its social-safety nets, its tech-oriented intellectual property development, and environmental industries rich in export and job-creation potential.
- The timing is right. Interest rates are at a historic low. The government’s cost of borrowing to pay for pandemic relief, a permanently stronger social safety net, and seed capital for tech-oriented startups with export potential is therefore manageable.
And so far, the pandemic ballooning of the deficit, to an admittedly staggering $343 billion in the current fiscal year, hasn’t caused a spike in inflation.
Canada has not entered uncharted territory with its current, greatly enlarged 49.1 per cent net-debt-to-GDP ratio. That ratio peaked at 66.6 per cent in 1996. It took just 13 years to get that ratio down to 28.2 per cent by 2009, ahead of the Great Recession.
And in the more recent four years of deficit-financed investment in Canada for which the Trudeau government won an electoral mandate in 2015, the average debt-to-GDP ratio has been just 31.6 per cent.
The Grits or their successors stand a good chance of restoring that pre-pandemic ratio once the days of extraordinary pandemic spending have passed.
For purposes of comparison, a prosperous Japan’s debt-to-GDP ratio has exceeded 200 per cent for decades. Kevin Page, the former parliamentary budget officer, said recently that Canada’s public finances are in better shape than most advanced economies.
As for our emergency pandemic government spending, it’s worth noting that Canada is on a level playing field our biggest trading partners — they too have run up their deficits and debt to protect their people.
But perhaps what most influences the Grits’ thinking is that Canadians, in adjusting so quickly to pandemic realities, are geared to accepting sensible change on economic reinvention if a good case can be made for it.
Nor are Canadians fretful about deficits and debt, regarding this year’s pandemic spending as money well spent to limit permanent pandemic damage to individuals’ finances and to the economy.
Actually, Liberals are betting that most Canadians are impatient for change in a gap between rich and poor that has widened even more during the pandemic, especially for women; and about our stubbornly slow progress in the fight against climate crisis.
The Grits could bungle this once-in-a-lifetime chance to create a more successful economy, as they did with the National Energy Program (NEP). Or they can get it right, as they did with a Medicare system that Canadians cherish — a triumph that was achieved by a minority government.
The NEP was sprung on Alberta and the country with notoriously little genuine consultation.
By sharp contrast, for the economic renaissance they’re now planning, the Grits have been soliciting input all year from the premiers, leaders in industry and organized labour, environmental and poverty activists, and of necessity in a minority government, opposition leaders and backbenchers.
And because an election is on the near horizon, we will all have our say on this proposed latest nation-building project.
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Trump says the economy is booming. He's right — but you don't feel it – CNN
The other side
Fears of funds drying up
Between the economy and coronavirus pandemic, Biden keeps his advantage nationally: POLL – ABC News
Biden’s 54%-44% advantage over Trump in a two-way contest precisely matches the last national ABC/Post poll in mid-August. Biden’s support slips to 49% when the Libertarian and Green Party candidates are included, versus 43% for Trump.
The results underscore Trump’s precarious position as the first president in 81 years of modern polling never to achieve majority approval for his work in office. He’s at 44% approval among all Americans, ranging from 52% for handling the economy to 40% on the coronavirus outbreak. Fifty-eight percent disapprove of his performance on the pandemic, a key to Biden’s support.
At the same time, the presence of Libertarian candidate Jo Jorgensen and Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins could pose a challenge to Biden in close states. Biden’s 5-point decline when these candidates are included is a significant, albeit slight, shift.
Biden continues to trail Trump, by 20 percentage points, in strong enthusiasm among their respective likely voters in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates. Still, another measure finds broad antipathy toward Trump: Among those who don’t support him, 59% say his reelection would be a crisis for the country. Among those not backing Biden, fewer — but still 50% — say it’d be a crisis if he won.
It’s true, as well, that national preferences don’t always reflect Electoral College outcomes, as was the case in 2016 and 2000. Recent ABC/Post state-level polls found virtually even races in Florida and Arizona and a close contest in Wisconsin, although a wide Biden lead in Minnesota, which Trump has sought to contest.
Trump and Biden meet Tuesday in their first presidential campaign debate.
What’s likely to matter more is turnout, a question complicated this year by pandemic-related concerns. Just 46% of likely voters plan to cast their ballot in person on Election Day; 50% instead plan to vote early or absentee. Who goes through with it is highly consequential: Trump leads by 19 points, 58%-39%, among Election Day voters, while it’s Biden by more than a 2-1 margin, 67%-31%, among those who intend to vote before then.
The pandemic, of course, has disrupted far more than balloting plans. Sixty-two percent of adults worry that they or an immediate family member may catch the virus, which has claimed more than 200,000 American lives. Likely voters who express this concern favor Biden, 71%-27%.
The economy, even in a pandemic-prompted recession, works better for Trump. While just 40% of Americans say it’s in good shape, that’s up from 31% just last month. And Trump leads by 82%-17% among likely voters who rate the economy positively. Further, a quarter call the economy the top issue in their vote, and those economy-focused voters favor Trump by 80%-18%.
That said, in a head-to-head test, the two candidates run very closely in trust to handle the economy, 49%-46%, Trump-Biden. And other results on trust are revealing: While Trump has hit hard on the issue of crime and safety, it’s Biden who’s slightly ahead in trust to handle it, 50%-44%. Biden leads by eight points in trust to handle the next Supreme Court nomination (as reported Friday), 11 points on the pandemic, 16 points on health care and 20 points on equal treatment of racial groups.
Trust on crime is about the same in the suburbs, 50%-46%, Biden-Trump, as nationally overall. Suburban men trust Trump more on crime by 20 points, but suburban women — a group Trump has focused on — trust Biden more, by 61%-37%. That tilts to Biden because of the share of suburban women — about 1 in 3 — who are racial or ethnic minorities. (Among suburban white women, it’s 51%-46%, Biden-Trump.)
There’s one warning flare here for Biden: His lead on trust to handle the pandemic has shrunk from 20 points during the summertime surge in cases in mid-July, 54%-34%, to today’s 11-point margin, 51%-40%.
As noted, the economy leads as the most important issue, with no consensus on what comes next. Seventeen percent pick the pandemic as their top issue, and likely voters who say so support Biden by 84%-13%. About as many say it’s either health care or equal treatment of racial groups; again more than 8 in 10 in both of these groups back Biden. Twelve percent cite crime and safety as their main concern — and in this group, 84% support Trump. Lastly, 11% focus on the next Supreme Court nomination, with closer vote preferences, 54%-45%, Biden-Trump.
In another delineating result, the public by 54%-42% supports recent protests against police treatment of Black people. Eight in 10 supporters of these protests favor Biden; 77% of opponents are with Trump.
Across issues, these results illuminate the logic of the current campaign, as Trump touts economic recovery and raises crime concerns while Biden pushes on the pandemic response, health care and equal treatment, and both navigate the trickier Supreme Court issue.
The impact of third-party candidates may be tough to gauge, since the pandemic has constrained their campaigns just as it has Trump’s and Biden’s. This survey asked two-candidate preferences first, then re-asked the question with Jorgensen and Hawkins added. Biden, as noted goes from 54% to 49% with these two included; that decline is significant at the 90% confidence level, as opposed to the conventional standard, 95%.
Trump moving from 44% to 43% is not statistically significant. Four percent express support for Jorgensen, who’s on the ballot in all 50 states; 3% for Hawkins, who’s on the ballot in 28 states. (In 2016, the Libertarian won 3%, the Green candidate, 1%.)
Using two-candidate preferences, huge gaps are evident across population groups. Trump leads by 13 points among men; Biden, by a wide 31 points among women. Trump’s up 6 points against Biden among nongraduates, while Biden leads by 30 points among college grads. The race is close among likely voters age 50 and older, while those younger than 30 back Biden by nearly 2-1 (using registered voters for an adequate sample size).
Unpeeling some groups demonstrates the depth of the gender gap, in particular. While the race is a close 52-47%, Biden-Trump, in the suburbs, that’s 60-38%, Trump-Biden, among suburban men, compared with 66-34%, Biden-Trump, among suburban women. And it’s Trump up 8 among men who are political independents, versus a 77%-20% Biden-Trump blowout among independent women.
In another sharp difference, evangelical white Protestants, a core Republican group, support Trump by an expected 75%-25% — but non-evangelical white Protestants go 58%-41%, Biden-Trump. (White Protestants account for nearly 3 in 10 likely voters; 57% are evangelicals, the rest not.)
Notable, too, is that Trump and Biden are dead even, 49%-49%, in households that include a veteran or active-duty member of the military; these generally are thought to be a more pro-GOP group. Trump took criticism in the past month for reports that he had disparaged military service, which he denied.
Among other groupings, Biden leads by 54%-42% in the 13 states that currently are the most contested by the candidates (Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Wisconsin). Moreover, it’s Biden by 20 points in the blue states won by Hillary Clinton, while dead even, 49%-49%, in the 2016 red states. Trump won those states four years ago by 53%-42%.
Comparisons to 2016, based on ABC News exit poll results, are telling. Among the most striking differences:
Trump, at the same time, has retained and even consolidated his core support groups. Overall, among 2020 likely voters who report having supported him in 2016, 91% support him now. He’s backed by 87% of conservatives, who account for a substantial 36% of all likely voters. And while Biden would be just the second Catholic president, white Catholics — an on-again, off-again swing voter group — side with Trump, 55%-44%.
This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by landline and cellular telephone Sept. 21 to 24, 2020, in English and Spanish, among a random national sample of 1,008 adults, including 889 registered voters and 739 likely voters. Results have a margin of sampling error of 3.5 points, including design effects, for the full sample and registered voters, and 4.0 points for likely voters. Partisan divisions are 31%-27%-37%, Democrats-Republicans-independents, among all respondents; 33%-29%-35% among registered voters; and 33%-32%-32% among likely voters.
The survey was produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates of New York, with sampling and data collection by Abt Associates of Rockville, Maryland. See details on the survey’s methodology here.
Asia Today: Morrison vows ‘titanic effort’ to lift economy – 570 News
CANBERRA, Australia — Prime Minister Scott Morrison says the Australian budget, to be delivered Oct. 6, will be a “titanic effort” to return the country to economic growth amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Morrison told reporters Sunday that the budget will the “most unprecedented investment in Australia’s future.”
Australia’s gross domestic product shrank 7% in the quarter form April to June, the largest contraction since record-keeping began in 1959. That followed a 0.3% decline in the first quarter, meaning Australia was technically in recession for the first time in 30 years.
Australia was the only major economy not to go into recession during the 2008 global financial crisis, its strength supported by strong demand, especially from China, for its natural resources — coal, natural gas and iron ore.
Even before the coronavirus, the economy was affected by massive bushfires in January that hit small businesses, which depend on tourism. Business shutdowns forced by the pandemic cost almost 1 million jobs and resulted in a major reduction in household spending despite Morrison’s government providing almost $200 billion Australian dollars ($140.5 billion) in economic stimulus.
Morrison said the upcoming budget “will be a titanic effort that we’re involved in to ensure that this country can get back on the growth path that we want to be on. That means we’re going to have to do some very heavy lifting in this budget and that comes at a significant cost.”
Treasurer Josh Frydenbeg, who will deliver the budget speech, on Thursday provided a downbeat economic outlook. Frydenberg said the economy likely will be 6% smaller by mid-2021 than forecast at the end of last year.
He said the government’s focus will be on economic recovery rather than budget repair until unemployment is “comfortably” less than 6%.
“Australia’s future population will be smaller and older than we previously assumed because of the sharp drop we are seeing in net overseas migration,” Frydenberg said. “While migration will eventually return to the levels we are accustomed to, lost migrants will not be replaced.”
Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
The Associated Press
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