Opinion, by Michael Royster
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Economics is sometimes called the “dismal” science, because it deals with scarcity. The etymology of “dismal” is from Latin “dies mali” or “bad days”; Dilma is certainly having very bad days, and all she does is dither.
In one dismal move, Dilma had Finance Minister Levy announce the government wouldn’t make the thirteen month payment to retirees, because cash was scarce. In another dismal move, Dilma (through Levy) tried to remove payroll tax breaks for big industry, because tax revenue was scarce. In both cases, faced with congressional opposition, Dilma dithered, then retreated, because votes are scarce.
The latest, most dismal move has been Dilma’s proposal (without consulting Congress) to resurrect the CPMF tax, hated by industry, commerce and politicians. These worthies immediately went ballistic, filling the skies (and the airwaves) with flak (no scarcity of that). The trial balloon, shredded the day before its scheduled launch, crashed and burned.
So, what did Dithering Dilma do? Again without consulting Congress, she proposed a 2016 Budget with a primary deficit rather than surplus. That is anathema to any austerity plan. It amounts to a resuscitation of the “tax and spend” policies that sent Brazil into recession and admits giving up any commitment to reduce government expenditures.
Dithering Dilma’s only “commitment” to reduce governmental expenditures is to promise to study eliminating some ten of the 39 Cabinet Ministries currently cluttering up office space in Brasília; however, details (who, what, where, when) were scarce.
Dithering Dilma defends this latest dismal move, claiming it is educational—members of Congress should learn they must come to their senses and carry out those parts of the austerity program they have overruled.
Dilma’s belief that anyone in Congress can ever be educated by her, indicates a definite scarcity of common sense and a complete lack of political sense. As Dilma dithers, Brasília burns; she will not be able to extinguish the brush fires. She should admit that and resign.
The Curmudgeon will emit more Smidgens opportunely, hopefully less dismal.