€5Bn adjustment now being touted for Budget 2011

It seems pretty clear that all the political parties (apart from Sinn Fein) have either bought into, or are about to buy into, the consensus that we absolutely have to achieve this budget adjustment  to a 3% deficit by 2013.  Why? 

This problem took over ten years to develop, and it occurred under a FAILED system of european oversight - so why are we being expected to fix the problem in 4 years?

The timetable for adjustment is too short - Government should spread the pain over 6 years - not 4 years.

The Government negotiatied a four-year plan with the EU last year  to get the budget deficit back to 3% of GDP by 2013.  That was then and this is now, and with an ever worsening situation it is clear to anyone who can see that this can only be achieved at the price of the wholescale destruction of our social infrastructure painstakingly built up over the past 20 years.

Government was originally talking about a €3 BN adjustment in Budget 2011 - now  there appears to be a consensus that it may be €5Bn and last night on the Front Line show economist Eunan King suggested that we should make a €7Bn adjustment this year!  Just to put that into perspective - the entire health service costs about €14Bn a year.

I heard Pat Rabitte on the radio the-weekend-before-last hint that the Labour Party might be willing to look at the 4 year timeframe for the adjustment.  He was rounded on by his FF colleague on the panel for putting our ability to borrow at immediate risk.  Pat's action took guts - and I truly hope that the Labour Party follows on his lead, adopts this policy approach and provides some leadership for the other political parties here.  I firmly beleive it's what the vast majority of Irish people want:  People aren't happy but when push comes to shove we don't mind repaying the debt: - as long as don't wreck the place in the process.

We need all the political parties to unite around going back to Brussells to renegotiate a credible and just 6 or 7 year plan for adjustment, not to destroy our social infrastructure by forcing through a completely destructive programme of national immiserisation.  Judging from Joan Burton's remarks following her look at the Government's books yesterday though, I'm not optimistic about labours commitment to breaking the consensus. 

It also appears that anyone who does will be accused of gambling our future and playing chicken with the markets.  Courage everyone.