Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Calm before the Storm

Tomorrow afternoon Brian Lenihan will give his budget address to the Dáil for 2010. At this stage a lot of the potential cutbacks have been leaked in one form or another but there is still scope for surprise. Remember back a few years when Charlie McCreevy stood up in the chamber and announced the decentralisation plan without having discussed it with Cabinet, without costings and with no regard for the spatial strategy that had been announced only a few months previous? I doubt that Lenihan will have a trick that big up his sleeve but it will be interesting to see what unleaked measures there are.

The main thing that I'm going to be looking out for is the reaction from FF back benchers during the speech and in the immediate aftermath. The early budget in October 08 was greeted with a standing ovation from the government benches after Lenihan's call to patriotic duty, yet within days TDs were scrambling to distance themselves from the medical card cuts. Having learned that lesson, the FF crew kept to their seats in the supplementary budgets in early 2009 where the increased income and pension levies were introduced.

It will also be interesting to watch the responses of the other parties. Richard Bruton's speeches have always been a bit disjointed compared to those of Joan Burton and even Arthur Morgan. Perhaps the others have the benefit of the time that Bruton is on his feet to plan out their thoughts a bit more carefully. However, it always seems as though Burton is the one landing the punches on the government both through cutting wit and hard facts and figures. Needless to say, RTE and the other media outlets will cut away from the Dáil before the opposition speeches are complete to allow the talking heads get in their tuppence worth. There are times you wish there was a CSPAN type broadcaster in the state. Luckily I'll have the whole "debate" streaming to the laptop so I won't miss a thing. Twitter won't know what hit it either.

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