Remember it is just a budget. There will soon be much learned comment about the first Labor Budget for 13 years with people judging how good or bad it is on the basis of what are nothing more than a set of guesses largely suggested by economists after playing with their computer models and then approved by politicians. The one thing we can say with certainty is that in important respects the guesses will turn out to be wrong because they always are.

This morning’s mugs? When as a journalist you make a bold prediction about what will happen on the day of an event you had better get it right or you will look an awful mug. There is no doubt that Malcolm Farr and Sue Dunlevy in this morning’s Daily Telegraph were bold in their story that “the first Rudd Government Budget tonight will dump work for the dole”. But will they be right? Well if we can believe Treasurer Wayne Swan at a press conference this morning the odds are against the Telegraph pair. “We’re keeping work for the dole,” Mr Swan said. Maybe there was a let out in the words added by the Treasurer foreshadowing changes to the scheme, saying there would be more investment in training and an expansion of “programs for the most disadvantaged in the labour market.” We shall soon see.

Mean people of Canberra. The Canberra Times clearly thinks its sagging circulation will take a further hit if it joins with other Fairfax titles and puts news from the paper on its website at a reasonable hour. While the Sydney Morning Herald and the The Age post stories from their print edition in the early hours of the morning, in Canberra they wait until well into the day. At least it shows the local daily knows something about its readers – public servants are a notoriously mean lot predisposed to saving a dollar if they can. So they’d be happy to get what they want from the internet for nothing.

She won’t go tomorrow. Hillary Clinton keeps battling on and the Crikey Election Indicator suggests she won’t be going from the race tomorrow either. The probability that she will beat Barack Obama in the West Virginia Primary is 98.7%

The Daily Reality Check

Wayne Swan wears the wrong kind of glasses. It is the big goggle eyes of the party boy Corey Worthington that readers are interested in this morning. The most featured item on the internet lists is the “flaxen-haired hellraiser” having amassed a $200,000 fortune and now preparing for a movie career. Treasurer Wayne barely gets a mention but his moment of glory should come in the morning.

The Pick of this Morning’s Political Coverage

What the world is reading on the net

Six Indians dead in a car accident in the United States beats seven or eight thousand killed in a Chinese earthquake for the readers of the Times of India. Still, over at the site of The Independent in the UK they are giving death and destruction a miss for the day with a third appearance at the top of their most read list to a photographic exhibition featuring “the weird world of bodybuilding”.

Some Quotes for Budget Day:

A good budget is an oxymoron

— Amory Houghton, US Congressman (D-NY) 7 Oct 1990.

When it comes to budget cuts, everyone wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die.

— Jean Chretien, Canadian Minister for Finance, 2 Nov 1978

How does a government reduce expenditures? To be absolutely flat about it, 99 percent of it is accomplished by putting people out of work. Now that is a tough way to say it, but it is a fact.

— George M. Humphrey, US Secretary of the Treasury, Apr 1954

How do you balance the budget, cut taxes and increase defense spending at the same time? It’s very simple. You do it with mirrors.

— John B. Anderson, US Congressman (R-IL) 1980

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Peter Fray
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