Dumb attack ads, and the real tax-cut winners

I'm baffled by the B.C. Liberals' focus on attacking the leaders of the other parties. So far, the efforts have looked amateurish and cynical, and have failed utterly to change public opinion.
Surely the critical issue for the party is finding ways to make people see Christy Clark more positively, not trying to slag the other guys.
The last Angus Reid poll found 28 per cent of British Columbians approve of Clark's work as premier; 53 per cent approve of the job Dix is doing as opposition leader. It's hard to see how any collection of low-budget attack ads are going to drag Dix down to less than 28 per cent.
There's certainly potential in pushing the NDP to commit to positions in advance of the election. (Though Dix will then remind people about the Liberals' promises not to bring in the HST, and ask what their positions are worth.)
But the attack ads seem pointless.
And they risk raising unintended issues.
The latest web attack, for example, says "When the NDP left government, a family of four earning $60,000 a year paid $1,970 more in provincial income tax than they do today," citing budget tables.
That's true enough. But the budget tables also calculate total provincial taxes - MSP, sales taxes, carbon tax.Those other taxes and fees went up $1,463 under the Liberals.
The family still pays less to the province - but $507 less, not $1,970. It's a dubious approach for a party trying to claim Dix is the one who can't be trusted.
And the ad opens the door to other tax questions.
The tax changes since 2001 under the Liberals have meant low income people pay much less to the province - 50 per cent less for a single person earning $25,000, 40 per cent less for a family of four earning $30,000.
But the next biggest beneficiary, given the budget examples, is a single person earning $80,000. He, or she, pays 28 per cent less than he did in 2001.
And a family of four earning $90,000 has received a bigger overall provincial tax cut - in dollars, and as a percentage - than a family earning $60,000.
Worse, the smallest reduction has been for a senior couple earning $30,000 in pension incomes. They're  paying three per cent less - $1.50 a week in tax relief.
Then, of course, there is the bigger assumption in the ads that tax cuts, in and of themselves, are automatically a good thing.
That family of four earning $60,000 is paying about $10 less a week to the province than it did in 2001. Maybe many of those families would consider it good value to pay the $10 if health care or education was improved for them and the people they care about.

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