According to the FT, Darling is going to "fast track" public expenditure. He plans to "accelerate" plans to build schools and hospitals in a desperate effort to fend off the expected recession.
Two thoughts immediately spring to mind. The first is a linguistic one. When the government say "fast-track", and "accelerate", they really mean increase and expand. An accelerated plan implies more spending now with less later. Of course, there will be no cut back later. Make no mistake, Brown and Darling are big government spenders.
It is just another case of the government using misleading language to confuse us about their true intentions. Darling is going on a debt financed spendfest, where today's generation tries to avoid some belt tightening by pushing the costs of their extravagant lifestyle onto the next generation.
The second thought concerns the recession itself. Invariably, politicians will do anything to avoid a slowdown on their watch. They will increase the fiscal deficit, hire armies of public sector employees and accumulate a mountain of debt. If need be, governments will ignore excessive risk taking in the financial sector, and when it all goes belly up, they will use truck loads of tax payers money to clean up the mess.
Increasing public expenditure might hold off a growth contraction, but only at the expense of more financial instability later. The UK government is now building up some shockingly large future liabilities.
Within ten years, pension and health care expenditure will explode due to a rapidly ageing population. Moreover, the costs of the banking sector bailout will still be on the public sector books. The taxpayer will also have to pay for those vanity projects such as the Olympics and those two mega-toys, sorry, aircraft carriers that the navy wants.
It would be more sensible to sort out the public sector budget rather than seeking out new expenditure opportunities. The government needs to balance its books. It should start saving some resources to confront these huge challenges that are now hurtling down the track.
This country doesn't need accelerated expenditures; it needs some savings.