02 October 2014

Who is now the fantasist?

CityAM is full of praise for the Prime Minister's speech yesterday:
Cameron’s [speech] will be remembered for the sheer number of major fiscal policy announcements it contained. Indeed, old fashioned message discipline ensured that, over the course of Conservative party conference, every speech and policy was built around the theme of economic growth. Reforming welfare? Encouraging work. Apprenticeships? Plugging the skills gap. Pension tax relief? Rewarding those who do the right thing.
With his speech yesterday, the Prime Minister added radical tax cuts into the mix. And make no mistake; increasing the income tax personal allowance to £12,500 is pretty radical, not least because of how expensive it is to the Exchequer. Indeed, for the same annual cost, the chancellor could have abolished inheritance tax or capital gains tax. It is, however, a more elegant way to help the low paid than a dramatic rise in the minimum wage, which could cost jobs in sectors where the productivity gains are simply not there to support it.
Increasing the threshold at which the 40 per cent rate of income tax kicks in to £50,000 is another welcome move, but it comes with a few glaring caveats. First, the policy is an aspiration, contingent on a majority Tory government being elected. In other words, whereas Lib Dem support for raising the personal allowance can probably be taken for granted, there’s no guarantee that they’d support similar relief for the squeezed middle.
Of course, if Miliband had made the same speech, promising unfunded tax cuts, he would have been excoriated for fantasy economics.  But then  life's like that ...

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