Available deficit, debt and growth forecasts show passing treaty will mean billions in extra cuts for many years
In a statement, Richard Boyd Barrett TD People Before Profit/United Left Alliance has said that both the Yes side and, increasingly, the media, were failing to debate the actual provisions of the Fiscal Treaty and the consequences of its implementation.
He said that the debate on the treaty had become one about dire warnings of the consequences of a NO vote, the NO side’s tax policies, personalities and media performances – in short everything except the actual contents of the treaty and a serious debate about what the treaty’s implementation would mean for Ireland and for Europe.
Richard Boyd Barrett said the failure to seriously scrutinise the contents of the Fiscal treaty suited the YES side, as any matching of the treaty’s provisions with the government’s own projected figures for the country’s deficit, and particularly its debt, for the year Ireland was due to exit the EU-IMF programme, taken alongside rapidly declining growth projections for the Irish and European economies, would be very damning for supporters of the treaty.
Richard Boyd Barrett said that while it was reasonable to question the NO side about the consequences of a NO vote the debate needed to be re-balanced with a serious debate about the contents of the treaty and the very serious consequences of a YES vote in the referendum.
Richard Boyd Barrett said any serious examination of the treaty’s provisions and projected figures for Ireland’s deficit, debt and growth made clear that implementing the treaty would mean billions in extra cuts for many years to come.
Richard Boyd Barrett said: “There is a great irony in the way the debate on the treaty has now unfolded. At the outset of the campaign it was suggested the NO side would turn the referendum debate into one about issues external to the treaty and yet this is precisely what the YES side has now done.
The YES side has refused to debate the substantive contents of the treaty and has instead focused on trying to ridicule the NO side and issuing dire and often dishonest warnings about the consequences of a NO vote. Unfortunately, they are being let away with this by much of the media.
While it is entirely reasonable that the NO side should be questioned about the consequences of a NO vote, the same level of scrutiny should be applied to the treaty itself and the likely consequences for the Irish economy and the European economy as a whole.
This is not a difficult thing to do as the treaty has only two key objectives – imposing deficit and debt reduction targets that must be met within specified timeframes. These targets simply have to be matched to available figures and projections on those items, taken alongside likely growth figures, in order to work out the likely costs and consequences for Ireland and Europe of implementing the treaty.
This relatively straightforward interrogation of the likely consequences of applying the treaty’s provisions to the Irish economy and the wider European economy is simply not being done.
This failure to fully scrutinise the treaty and the likely cost of its implementation suits the YES side as any examination of even the government’s own projected deficit and debt figures for the period when Ireland is due to exit the EU-IMF programme make clear that applying the treaty’s provisions would mean billions of extra cuts for a decade or more. The consequences become even more serious and the required cuts become even more enormous, when you factor in that growth forecasts for Ireland and Europe are being dramatically down-graded.
When these points are put to the government they simply bat them off with glib comments about growth and inflation sorting the whole problem out or by denouncing what they call the “fantasy” economics of the NO side. Of course the real “fantasy” is the government’s glib claim that growth and inflation will dissolve the enormous cost of meeting the treaty’s deficit and debt targets, when growth is rapidly contracting across Europe and the entire policy of the ECB and Angela Merkel is anti-inflationary.
The government should start to be honest with people about the real implications of this treaty based on the figures and information that are in their possession. The serious media also have a responsibility to the public to re-balance the debate and ensure that the actual provisions of the treaty and the likely result of their implementation be fully examined.
Put simply, the government should be asked how much is it going to cost from 2014 onwards to meet the treaty targets and who is going to pay for it? The government don’t want to answer these questions because, however you calculate it, the answer is: billions for years to come, with workers, the unemployed and the vulnerable in our society paying the bill.”