Wayne Swan, federal Treasurer: the Axeman cometh. The cuts shall be deep. The axe shall swing wide. The pain shall hit the … hip pocket. No one shall be spared.

And lo, so it was foretold: the federal budget 2011 shall draw blood.

Well, that’s what they keep telling us, anyway.

Swan and co have talked tough before — last year it was all about the miners. And we know how that worked out.

The government’s challenge is to avoid the default sales proposition of “something for everyone”, stick to their political promise of surplus by 2012-13 or bust and embed the knife somewhere. But where they’re going to gouge into is anyone’s guess. We’ve been given the good news ($3-4 billion worth of spending announcements and confirmed leaks, almost all of which are election pledges made good, and today mental health is being touted as a big winner) and so far, the tough love has extended to shifting people from welfare to work, cracking down on the disability support pension, leaning on teenage mums to return to work and targeting the long-term unemployed. These are all easy targets.

The moment of truth comes tonight. How tough are you, Wayne?


Be sure to check your inboxes around 8pm this evening for your bonus Tuesday night lock-up edition of Crikey. Inside, you’ll find comprehensive coverage by our Canberra correspondent Bernard Keane, along with economist Nicholas Gruen, deputy editor Jason Whittaker and roving gumshoe Andrew Crook, plus Business Spectator‘s Alan Kohler and SmartCompany‘s James Thomson.

While you wait for your bonus evening email to hit, head over to the Crikey website at 7.30pm to peruse our budget 2011 live blog, hosted by editor Sophie Black with the assistance of the always insightful First Dog on the Moon, live from the floor of parliament as the Treasurer delivers his speech. Then stay tuned as Keane and Gruen, fresh from filing their budget analysis, jump on board to take your questions.

On Wednesday we’ll deliver a bumper Budget edition — with more Keane, Gruen and Kohler, plus a host of commentators breaking the budget down by sector.

In the meantime, study up at our special 2011 federal budget page. And while you’re at it, invest in a classic conversation piece — buy a Deep Cuts 2011 T-shirt*.

*Now with extra umlauts.