The U.S. isn’t the only country that can have a crippling argument over the state of its finances. Australia is in the middle of one too.
But unlike American conservatives, Australia’s conservative prime minister — Tony Abbott — has decided to impose higher taxes on his country’s highest earners. Abbott has proposed a 2 percent wage levy, despite promising not to raise taxes when he was running for office.
On Tuesday, the government promised to slice its deficit in half — with the help of some severe austerity measures.
But it’s not all tax hikes and spending cuts for the country. Australia has now pledged to spend $84 million on the search for the Malaysia Airways flight that has been missing since March 8. The plane, and the 239 people who were aboard it, is thought to be somewhere in the Indian Ocean.
Back on the mainland, Australians shouldn’t expect as much aid as the searchers for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 are getting. Along with higher taxes, Abbott plans to lay off more than 16,000 state employees, slash 200 spending programs, kick people off unemployment benefits, and cut pensions for the elderly. Other government projects — such as high-speed Internet and high-speed rail — have been pushed to the wayside.
Members of Australia’s liberal Labor Party say the so-called crisis is being blown out of proportion. According to a recent Newspoll survey, 35 percent of Australians say they are satisfied with Abbott’s performance. By comparison, President Obama holds a 41 percent approval rating.
The Australian government is structured a lot like the U.S. government. It has a bicameral legislature, a constitution that governs the commonwealth government’s relation to the country’s six states and other territories, and a high court that interprets that constitution. But, as in Britain, the country’s prime minister is drawn from the ruling party’s leader in the legislature. Abbott represents Australia’s Liberal Party — which, confusingly, actually leans to the right.
While the $84 million that Australia has said it’ll spend on the plane hunt is a drop in the bucket compared with the $27.9 billion the government plans to cut from its budget over the next fiscal year, it does have symbolic power. Is finding the plane’s 239 people — missing for over two months — worth more than Australia’s own citizens? “The documents put no limit on what Australia is prepared to spend,” the Associated Press reported.
The mystery of the missing plane is too seductive a story for Australia to ignore — more so than 16,000 unemployed government workers.
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With three days until the first debate, the polls are coming fast and furious. The latest round:
- An Associated Press/Gfk poll of registered voters found very few voters committed, with Clinton leading Trump, 37% to 29%, and Gary Johnson at 7%.
- A McClatchy-Marist poll gave Clinton a six-point edge, 45% to 39%, in a four-way ballot test. Johnson pulls 10% support, with Jill Stein at 4%.
- Rasmussen, which has drawn criticism for continually showing Donald Trump doing much better than he does in other polls, is at it again. A new survey gives Trump a five-point lead, 44%-39%.
In contrast to Hillary Clinton's meticulous debate practice sessions, Donald Trump "is largely shunning traditional debate preparations, but has been watching video of…Clinton’s best and worst debate moments, looking for her vulnerabilities.” Trump “has paid only cursory attention to briefing materials. He has refused to use lecterns in mock debate sessions despite the urging of his advisers. He prefers spitballing ideas with his team rather than honing them into crisp, two-minute answers.”
Donald Trump "is on the precipice of becoming the only major-party presidential candidate this century not to reach out to millions of American voters whose dominant, first or just preferred language is Spanish. Trump has not only failed to buy any Spanish-language television or radio ads, he so far has avoided even offering a translation of his website into Spanish, breaking with two decades of bipartisan tradition."
Bill and Hillary Clinton have purchased the home next door to their primary residence in tony Chappaqua, New York, for $1.16 million. "By purchasing the new home, the Clinton's now own the entire cul-de-sac at the end of the road in the leafy New York suburb. The purchase makes it easier for the United States Secret Service to protect the former president and possible future commander in chief."