Eamon Delaney: This level of welfare spending is not sustainable
The Dail may be closed but the airwaves are busy with ministers already putting down markers on the forthcoming Budget. Most vocal, as usual, is Social Protection Minister Joan Burton, who is trying to avoid taking a further €440m out of the welfare budget and to use the promissory-note money as a let-off. But Fine Gael's plan, and a sensible one to most of us, is that such money should be used for a jobs stimulus.
Burton's argument, repeatedly voiced of late, is that to take this welfare money out of the economy would be "very likely to shrink" economic activity in the country and remove the public's spending power, which is allegedly stimulating our recovery. But this is a decadent argument and a ridiculous justification when we are trying to get people back to work and be competitive again.
There is a logical reason why the troika thinks that our vast and multi-faceted welfare budget needs to be cut. Sure, on this reasoning by Ms Burton, the Government may as well just give everybody €100 and tell them to spend it in the neighbourhood.