Limp Budget born in a political cul-de-sac
With the disintegration of traditional voting patterns there was much talk of new politics versus old. On the evidence of Budget 2017, all such talk is redundant. This is sterile, stale and recycled politics intent on currying favour for short-term limited ambitions.
After all this country has come through, it should be clear that the only politics that matters is "Big Picture Politics". That is putting the needs of the people first with a fixed focus on the national interest securing a fairer future. But this Budget was always going to be a confection; an assortment put together to satisfy the tastes of Fianna Fáil the Independent Alliance, and Fine Gael. But too many competing flavours have cancelled each other out. With so many sweeteners, small wonder it included a plan for a sugar tax.
Fine Gael was simply a servant to too many masters to leave a strong imprint. The confidence and supply agreement with Fianna Fáil was evident; a dependence on Independents also meant that it was clearly politically neutered. For all these reasons Michael Noonan's sixth Budget was never going to be a Buzz Lightyear-like leap "into infinity and beyond" in Fiscal Space.