Well we have moved on from the Kenny and Noonan Show to the Varadkar and Donohoe foot shuffle. Am I impressed ? Not particularly, but no doubt when the government’s new Strategic Communication Unit, otherwise known as the Blueshirt propaganda machine, gets going, we will all be convinced that this is the first stepping stone towards the Taoiseach’s great “ Republic of Opportunity”. Minister Donohoe is without doubt an able politician but perhaps he has revealed a weakness and that is you should learn from history and, in this case, recent history. One of the dangerous aspects of both the Ahern and Cowan administrations was their reliance on stamp duty for revenue. This budget shows some of the same thinking by raising stamp duty on commercial property transactions by 4%. It is a gamble and there is a lot riding on it. In addition, the Minister has applied this to the sale of farmland and frankly I wonder whether he consulted rural Fine Gael deputies about this measure. I don’t think it will go down well in the farming community. Not the cleverest thing when facing a possible election next year.
The Strategic Communication Unit will have their work cut out for them painting a glossy picture about a reforming government seeking to house the homeless, cut taxes and creating a more just society. Well they did introduce a sugar tax. To be honest I’m not convinced that this is the answer to the exploding obesity crisis which has multiple causes but at least the intentions are good. Has Pascal Donohoe given people enough sweeteners to win an election for Fine Gael ? The answer is no, but it is interesting to watch Fianna Fail dance around the aspects of the budget it wants to own or disown.
Moving on to global issues, the Trump presidency is becoming a theatre of the absurd with The Donald increasingly portrayed as a deranged figure prowling the White House growling about his enemies. For the first time there is now an open debate about the 25th Amendment to the US Constitution. In short, this allows the removal from office of a President “unfit” to serve. To trigger this process requires the support of the Vice President and a majority of his cabinet. At the moment, that looks a little unlikely . However, the fact that this is being openly talked about is extremely telling. Many people all over the world are now deeply concerned that the President has possession of the nuclear codes. Is it now possible that at the highest echelons of government they are considering such an eventuality? For the sake of the world, I hope so.