Simon Wren Lewis draws attention to further evidence that UK chancellor George Osborne is a cunning, some would say deceitful, political tactician. His goal: to shrink the size of the state. His excuse: the size of the budget deficit.
Austerity was never mostly about economics, more about politics, although I would argue that the two are best analysed together. One can have debates about the appropriate size of the state, but Osborne has not done this in public. To that extent, he has been deceitful about his aims in government. Instead of honestly making the case, he has insisted that the deficit must fall, and ‘difficult decisions’ (the poorest must accept a reduction in their incomes) need to be taken.
The brunt of deficit reduction has fallen on reductions in public spending rather than tax increases. Osborne has done both, but those right at the bottom of the income scale will continue to suffer the most.