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AltAusterity Digest #50 May 31-June 6, 2018

This week in Austerity News:

Jun 08, 2018

With the Ontario provincial election approaching on June 7th, the two parties remaining as contenders are the New Democratic Party (NDP) and the Progressive Conservatives (PC). Although the PCs have not released a fully costed platform, the known estimates add up to roughly $5.76 billion in lost revenue each year, and commitments to spending total just over $8 billion. Using available numbers, Mike Moffatt, an economist with Western University’s Ivey Business School, has found that these numbers would likely mean that the PCs would run larger deficits than both the NDPs and the Liberals. The cumulative losses to provincial revenues would be higher than those of the Harris/Eves era (1995 to 2003) when more than more than 11,400 hospital beds were cut, 39 hospitals were closed, and tens of thousands of healthcare workers were laid off.

A wave of protests erupted in Jordan following the proposed introduction of IMF-backed austerity measures. Last week the government drafted a new law that will increase taxes on employees by at least 5% and on companies by between 20% and 40%. The tax increases are the newest in a series of measures, including repeated price hikes on basic goods, that the Jordanian government have implemented since receiving a US$723 million three-year credit line from the IMF. Following a breakdown of talks with Jordan’s federation of unions, King Abdullah II called on parliament to establish “reasonable national dialogue” on the new tax law. As it currently stands, 78 out of 130 parliamentary representatives have pledged to vote against the proposed tax hikes.

A piece from the New York Times assesses the impacts of austerity at the local level in England. The austerity wave that began in Britain under the Conservative Party has seen increasing rates of crime, opioid addiction, infant mortality, childhood poverty and homelessness. The changes have refashioned Britain away from the Western European social welfare model, and increasingly aligned it with the market-dependent system in the United States. Since the financial crisis in 2008, the austerity agenda has accelerated leading to the deterioration of public services including fire and rescue, home care, disability support, public housing and healthcare. According to Jonathan Davies, director of the Center for Urban Research on Austerity at De Montfort University, an increasing number of British cities may end up facing financial situations like Detroit.

On Friday morning, the Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy was ousted in a no-confidence motion. By Saturday morning, Pedro Sánchez of the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE), was sworn in as his successor. Only a few days prior to his removal, Rajoy’s cabinet has passed their annual budget and looked set to survive with a minority government until the next mandated parliamentary elections in 2020. However, a ruling by the Audiencia Nacional – Spain’s highest anti-corruption court – revealed that Rajoy had received illegal payments through a network of “friendly contractors.” The flip to the PSOE minority is backed by a host of other parties, but it is unlikely that the loose coalition will last, and snap elections will likely have to be called.

That's it for this week's Digest! Check back next Friday morning for another edition, or subscribe to our newsletter for a weekly roundup. We'll also Tweet each time we add new content, so you can keep up with our work @AltAusterity and join the #altausterity conversation!