07 March 2012

Dundernomics 101: The Cleary Factor #nlpoli

The gang at CBC shouldn’t feel sheepish.

They might have been the ones who pushed it most aggressively but  they weren’t the only news outlet that started talking up budget cuts and restraint based on what Premier Kathy Dunderdale told them.

Here’s part of what the Premier said to CBC’s Debbie Cooper:

“We're looking at a three-per-cent reduction right across government,…”

The Telly picked up a similar idea:

“It’s time to rein in our spending on infrastructure particularly,”

The Premier even repeated the same basic comments in the House on Tuesday afternoon before she scrummed with news media:

We have asked all our departments to look for at least 3 per cent in reductions, and yes, there are exemptions

All CBC did was take the Premier at her word, just like they recently took the word of a federal member of parliament about his view of his own pension.

They also – quite logically – concluded that the Premier was looking at cuts of more than $200 million. That would be three percent of the $7.5 billion or so in last year’s provincial budget.

Turns out when it comes to what they say, Ryan Cleary and Kathy Dunderdale are the same person.

On Tuesday, Kathy Dunderdale said the amount to be cut would be less than $100 million and that most of the big areas of government spending – health care and education, justice, and social assistance – were all “ring-fenced” and so they’d be immune from any cuts.

Now on a budget of $7.5 or $8.0 billion,  you can get $100 million in “savings” just by how you round your numbers.  That’s because you are looking at something like a cut of one to one and a half percent. 

Not three percent.

But half that or maybe less again

And just to make sure you can’t miss the point, note that Dunderdale herself flippantly dismissed the amount to be saved.  On Tuesday, she told reporters that maybe officials might go to six conferences instead of 10.

You just can’t reconcile what Kathy Dunderdale told Debbie Cooper and what Dunderdale said 24 hours later unless you come to one conclusion: Dunderdale simply didn’t know what she was talking about on Monday.

- srbp -


Dave Adey said...

Ed b'y,the more the woman talks, the more confused she seems to be. I find it very painful and nerve wreaking to listen to her. Is it just me?

Edward Hollett said...

She likes jargon and bafflegab which is a sign she really doesn't understand a lot of what she is talking about. Either that or, as I said before, she thinks it makes her sound smarter. It doesn't. in many respects that's a distinction without a difference: her comments and her behaviour suggests she really doesn't understand lots of things she says.

One of my favourites was when she called the Nalcor demand and supply appraisal for the island (a regultory requirement) a "strategy". That seems to have come from the fact that the Tories call everything a strategy. It's just a buzzword.

In the case of the budget plan (such as it is), she quite obviously didn't understand what she was saying. In the House you could see her looking down to read from her prepared talking points for things that she should have had right off the top of her head. (the list of things the cuts wouldn't affect)

There is a possibility as well that some of her TPs are confusing or not well thought out. Talk of a 3% cut at all would certainly produce the sort of reaction they got so her immediate change of direction looks like the 8th is making shit up as they go along.

That staff problem could be part of it, but the root of the problem is Dunderdale herself. That's pretty clear since her most recent cock-up is basically in the same style as the mess over Joan Cleary (2006, Dunderdale said one thing one day and then something radically different the next) or the bankrupt German company and Abitibi. She's got a record of frigging up badly.

For me, though, the thing that strikes me most about the Prem lately is the anger behind her comments. There was lots of venom aimed at Lorraine Michael yesterday.

People don't realise it but Dunderdale can be petty and particularly vicious in her comments at times. In that respect, she makes Danny look like Gandhi or Mother Theresa.

Her whole tendency to arrogance and to insult people's intelligence is part of that. It seems to stem from some sort of underlying insecurity. With Michael though it seems to be a personal anger at the major setbacks the Tories had in October in St. John's.

All of that speaks both to the pressures she is under (MF isn;t doing well, budget pressures are big) and potentially some insecurity over her position. Recall, she didn't get this as the result of a straight up fight. She was stuffed into the job. There is lots of pushback against Dunderdale inside the party. She knows - like lots of us do - that the NDP votes in St. John's were anti-Dunderdale votes by people who usually vote Tory.

On top of that she hasn't had any honeymoon and the fact she is the first woman Premier elected means nothing to most people (despite some efforts by her crowd to torque that out there). It is a theme that had no legs at all.