I like Bruce Fitch. I run into him occasionally at church. His commentary against upping the HST has been published in at least the T&T and the Gleaner.
In the commentary he hammers the idea of raising the HST and lists all the same old tired arguments that have been published before.
He says it is not the way to go.
Then, what is the way to go?
That’s the problem. It is easy to hammer away at any change at all (remember the HST was 15% just three years ago so those people like Fitch claiming doom and gloom apparently don’t remember just three years go – if a 15% HST was so damaging to the economy why didn’t his government drop it?).
The truth is that New Brunswick never really changes. All governments come in with great rhetoric but if you read (and I have) the narrative going back 50-60-70 years or more the talk is always about New Brunswick becoming a better economy. A place that doesn’t see great out-migration, etc. And nothing changes.
Because even the simplest of proposed changes gets hammered and governments back off. It’s unbelievable. Changing the HST to 15% is about the most tepid change in tax policy that you could implement because it was that level just three years ago.
When the PM cut the GST, virtually all economists said it was a bad idea. Think tanks right and left saw it for what it was – good politics. It was visual. It was immediate and people saw the impact.
Essentially the NB government is saying that this province should have smarter tax policy that is designed to incentivize more investment here (not more consumption) – at least that is my hope.
And along comes Bruce Fitch, Al Hogan, the CFIB, the Retail association, the Chamber and just about every other influencing agent in society to hammer as cataclysmic something that was in place just three years go with no cataclysm. In fact, I don’t recall any of the things Bruce Fitch discusses actually happening three years ago.
But we all have short memories, don’t we?
I say the odds are 50/50 maybe less that we get any substantitive tax policy changes. It is far easier to do nothing and coast along rather than risk the wrath of the vested interests. Just ask Bruce Fitch.