Mr Armstrong is an excellent writer with an astute political mind (He would have been a bloody good cricketer.) but for some reason he seems to have made it his task to paint one of the most outstandingly successful budgets as a potential disaster for National.
The first glaring but not obvious example is his continuing focus on tax cuts and Labour's futile pursuit of their deferral. Here is Mr Armstrong on Labour and tax cuts.
"Labour has also put much effort in the past couple of days into slamming National for promising tax cuts during the election and legislating them into law under parliamentary urgency before last Christmas when it already knew the cuts were unaffordable."
However, the priceless pearl of information is here.
"The Treasury estimated a downgrade would push up the cost of borrowing by 1.5 per cent."
Repeat after me:
A credit downgrade would push up the cost of borrowing by 1.5 per cent.
Got that, have you? Well get this. A credit downgrade was widely expected but we got instead, a surprise credit UP GRADE. That means a net 3.0% reduction in the cost of borrowing compared with where we would be under Labour or a 'tax cut induced' credit downgrade..
Armstrong (and National) should now be talking about mortgage interest cuts of up to three percentage points. They should be leaning hard on the banks to pass on this windfall reduction in their costs of borrowing.
(This windfall far exceeds anything related to recent RBNZ cuts in the OCR because the banks borrow most of their money overseas and the gummint's sovereign credit rating largely determines the price the banks will pay for their money.)
This budget's surprise credit upgrade will put more cash money in the pockets of middle income voters than the tax cuts they were not really expecting anyway. The budget is a bonanza for salary and wage earners - all those middle class people who live in My Albert electorate. The message needs to be hammered home before voting day. Melissa Lee's party just gave you the mother of all tax cuts. She not only saved you from a $170 per week hike in your interest bill, she reduced it by a further $170 per week. That's cash back in your hand. Far more than you were going to get from some lousy tax cut the country can't really afford, thanks to Labour.
Three points off the interest bill for Adolf's $80k salary Mt Albert voter with an LAQC investment property and a $600k loan (There will be thousands of them because that's where BlueChip went prospecting for sales) means this guy gets an immediate benefit of $346 per week! Yes I had to double check - it's not $34.60 per week. It's a whopping eighteen grand per year.
The second glaring example is this already worn out furphy
"...........the big clanger in the Budget - the suspension of Government contributions into the Superannuation Fund for the next decade and possibly longer."
Michael Cullen himself prescribed this very measure in his introduction of the fund to the Parliament. It is Michael Cullen's woeful extravagance in government spending and parsimony over tax cuts when they WERE affordable which brings us to the point when we must implement HIS remedy which is to suspend contributions.
Get over it please, Mr Armstrong. Get over it Labour.
The as yet unrecognised political genius of this budget, Mr Armstrong, is that it is designed to win the seat of Mt Albert.