Netherlands at a standstill over budget fight. I blame Bush.
A row over budget cuts last year brought down the government in the Netherlands, the euro zone’s fifth-largest economy and one of the bloc’s core members. And although this cabinet is expected to survive the impasse, it faces a tough challenge to secure support for another round of austerity when the economy is in recession and consumption is weak.
A coalition of the center-right Liberal Party and leftist Labor Party, the government lacks a majority in the senate and needs the backing from the opposition to pass its budget for 2014, which includes €6 billion ($8.17 billion) in extra tax increases and spending cuts, as well as proposed reforms in the pension system and labor market.
Talks suffered a big blow Thursday, after an unpromising start last week, when a key opposition party, the centrist Christian Democrats, pulled out, saying it disagreed with the government’s planned tax increases. “It doesn’t create jobs, it will only make the crisis worse. So we won’t participate,” said the party’s leader, Sybrand van Haersma Buma.
The move angered some cabinet members. Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans said the Christian Democrats were behaving irresponsibly and he accused them of raising “the middle finger” to the cabinet, a comment for which he later apologized.
Just this past Friday Harry Reid apologized for his own nasty remarks about his Senate colleagues. I imagine his remorse is as genuine as Foreign Minister Timmerman’s.