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Fiery debate over Red-Green spending plan

TT/David Landes · 1 Sep 2010, 17:30

Published: 01 Sep 2010 17:30 GMT+02:00

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According to Borg, a member of the Moderate Party, Swedish households would see their taxes go up by a combined 23 billion kronor ($3.2 billion) under the opposition’s proposals, presented on Tuesday as a part of the Red-Greens’ election platform.

Overall, Swedes’ tax burden would climb by 54 billion kronor, Borg estimates.

“This is a rampant and far reaching programme of tax hikes,” Borg said in a press conference on Wednesday.

He claimed that the opposition’s proposals would result in public outlays rising to 34.9 billion kronor, half of which going to an increase in social welfare payments.

In addition, 4.4 million wage earners would end up with higher income taxes, Borg asserted.

“It was Lars Ohly who won and TCO who lost,” Borg said, citing the leader of the Left Party and the Swedish Confederation for Professional Employees, a white collar labour group.

Borg also claimed the Social Democrats' promise of keeping taxes for low- and middle-income wage earners from going up wouldn't hold.

According to the finance minister’s calculations, a nurse would have 500 kronor less to spend each month under the Red-Green proposal. The example assumes that the opposition, if elected, would forego another round of tax deductions for workers as proposed by the centre-right Alliance.

Borg also said that the opposition’s proposal to lower the ceiling for daycare fees (‘maxtaxa’) wouldn’t help single, low-income parents since they currently don’t pay the maximum amount.

Social Democratic economic policy spokesperson Thomas Östros rejected Borg’s critique of the Red-Greens’ proposals and its effects as “deficient and silly”.

“His policies have resulted in 100,000 thousand more unemployed. My assessment is that if that policy continues, many of them will be knocked out (of the job market) forever, which will lower GDP and lead to a budget deficit,” Östros told the TT news agency on the margins of an election rally in Västerås in central Sweden.

He’s upset that Borg, when he and the prime minister first commented on the Red-Green election platform, claimed that the opposition’s proposals would result in 500 kronor more per month in taxes for “relatively normal wage earners”.

“That’s a complete lie,” said Östros, countering that it amounted to 100-150 kronor a month for low- and middle-income wage earners and that the Red-Greens would also spend more money on welfare programmes.

Story continues below…

Borg’s calculations are based on the example of a nurse who earns 28,000 kronor per month.

Östros added that he felt it was irresponsible of Borg to consider tax reductions that the Alliance has proposed but not yet carried out as paramount to tax increases in the Red-Greens’ proposals.

“In that case we could say that the Alliance wants to raise the maximum fee for daycare, because they don’t want to lower it,” said Östros.

TT/David Landes (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

20:11 September 1, 2010 by here for the summer
Why does anyone listen to Lars Ohly ? The left/communist party only had only 5.6% of the vote in 2006 and i bet if more Swedes really knew where Lars and the party stood they would have even less.
09:46 September 2, 2010 by RobinHood
They listen to him because that 5.6% might just be enough to get him the position of King maker in a new Red/Green government.

Not a comfortable thought when you take into account his admiration of Stalin and Castro, and his view that democracy isn't entirely a good thing, if it gets in the way of good communist government.

Swedes should listen to, and watch, this man very carefully.
10:33 September 2, 2010 by goober
There is something really quite depressing that welfare discussions from the red green block seem to be the only platform that they have. Is sweden some backward country where everyone depends on handouts from the state, is nobody able to raise a child because of the appaling state of their finances.

Do people have no acess to healthcare, are old people dying in their homes during winter because of the cold, are children going hungry on the streets.

No, I think not.

The debate about pensioners strikes me as a slightly odd one, after working for 40 years and most likely voting for the social democrats has no one made any provision for their old age, are they busy eating yesterdays catfood to survive. No, I doubt it.

Anders Borg hits the nail on the when he says we need more tax payers not higher taxes. Personally I have no issue with spending a greater percentage of my tax on pensions but I am not thrilled about using my tax money as a fix all panacea to be spent on welfare.

One sometimes gets the impression that welfare payments are more about allowing people to avoid having to make decisions about priorities, do I have an LED TV in every room or only one so dagis costs are not crippling. Can I take 2 years off as I have gone into the wall but still want enough money so I can go out every saturday.

Life is full of choices and welfare is not a band aid to avoid having to make them.

The sooner we can prioritise allowing small companies for example to make money and employ people, and fire people where necessary the better. More tax payers and less welfare culture, it is such a dated concept of dependence.
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