Thursday, January 31, 2008

The government of the people

Pravda-by-the-Palace puts out its usual drek:

DPJ must vote on bills before end of FY07
The Yomiuri Shimbun

A political impasse involving an all-out confrontation between the ruling and opposition parties has been avoided at the last moment with the ruling and opposition blocks accepting an unusual mediation offer by the House of Representatives speaker and the House of Councillors president.

As a result, the ruling bloc agreed Wednesday to withdraw a stopgap bill for extending the provisional gasoline tax and other road-related tax rates two months beyond their March 31 expiration.

But, considering the uncertainty over the future course of the nation's economy and the unacceptable nature of political stalemate, it is only natural that a last-ditch effort was made by the ruling and opposition camps.

To help stabilize the economy, people's lives and the finances of local governments, it is necessary to make a quick start to debate over the fiscal 2008 budget bill and tax system-related bills so that their passage through the Diet can be achieved by the end of fiscal 2007.=

Why is DPJ obsessed with bill?

But why was the Democratic Party of Japan so strongly opposed to the stopgap bill drafted by the ruling camp, which aimed to avert turmoil in people's lives and the nation's economy? It may be that the DPJ feared its basic strategy to work the political situation in its favor was likely to be thrown off track...

It takes an incredible suspension of disbelief to assert that when a ruling coalition in possession of a supermajority in the House of Representatives suspends a stopgap bill, that this is a demonstration of the opposition's resignation to political reality.

Since when do the LDP and the Komeitō extend a hand to help the Democrats recover from their long term policy errors?

This was a whupping--the yonyaku were up-front and center in favor of the extension of the temporary tax for a specific purpose--to buy the votes of a favored narrow traditional constituency.

Kōno Yōhei only stated the obvious to these numbskulls: the people cannot be fooled.

The vote-buying plan--the purpose of this whole rigamarole for Elections Measures Chairman Koga Makoto and the other LDP retreads--is dead. The tax revenues are going into the general fund or into an environmental protection fund. If the LDP tries to pull a fast one and channel anything more than a token amount to the road construction gang, then the DPJ will pull out of the agreement--having learned from history that one never commits to anything when shaking the hand of the LDP.

The government against the people lost. The government for the people seems to have won.

Simple, it is, really.


Jan Moren said...

I did wonder why DPJ didn't take on the environmental angle from the very beginning. Accept the extension of gasoline taxes if, and only if, the money goes for environmental purposes, not road construction.

It would undercut opposition to it from Fukuda (who is working hard right now to position himself on environmental issues), it would sit well with a lot of voters, and it would force anybody opposed to the idea to spell out to their constituents that they'd rather see the money go to the construction industry (that paragon of ethical governance and fiscal transparency). And it would certainly not hurt that the idea is a genuinely good one.

I guess this is more or less what happened, though DPJ would have been able to score a lot more points on it had they taken that direction from the beginning, I think.

Anonymous said...

If this is indeed what happened, what was the debate shown on TV about this morning? I just don't see how the LDP can give in easily on this-they're like the party in Soviet times.

I, too, had the question about why not making the extension be predicated upon environmental spending. The only problem might be in figuring out quickly what to do with all that money in a presentable, somewhat rational manner.

MTC said...

willie -
The best explanation seems to be Pandolfini Rule #6:

"If you blunder, don't give up fighting. Compose yourself to avoid additional mistakes. Stay in the game. After getting the advantage, your opponent may relax and let you escape. If this fails, you can always resign."

The LDP has missed the deadline--we are now 59 days away from the natural death of the supplementary temporary tax for roads. Even if the House of Representatives passes an extension, the House of Councillors can just sit on the extension proposal for 60 days.

Nevertheless, the LDP leadership still wants to try to buy the votes of the road construction gang. So why not put on a show of defiance and determination? Who knows, given the DPJ's proclivities toward self-destruction, something turn up in budget debate to weaken or demolish the DPJ's position. At very worst, the LDP can in the end throw up its hands and say, "Look, we tried."

Anonymous said...


Yes, but I don't know that the politics play out in a favorable way. The folks in the trough are going to back the LDP no matter what, but a lot of people are uninformed of just how ridiculous construction spending is in Japan. A regular discussion of this in the media cannot help the LDP for the next election, can it?

As a former serious chess player, I appreciate the value of tenacity, but question the tactical approach of keeping the argument at a high pitch.