My Budget Day routine is the same every year. Isn’t everyone?
Prepare three colored highlighters – bright green, neon pink and a bold blue. Two pens, a pencil, and the Anglo Irish Bank stress ball, which I was given as a gift a decade ago after a raid in their locked basement uncovered boxes of paraphernalia imprinted with the logo of that less-than-august institution.
It turned out, like the defunct bank itself, wasn’t worth anything on eBay, so I bring it with me to remind myself from time to time why our taxes are so high.
Add the laptop, chargers for everything, and a sandwich (it’s never time to show up for lunch, given the ill-timed speech proper), and the ticket goes into my special “budget bag” (okay, maybe a step too far). I hop on the #16 bus to spend the day in the editorial office while my colleagues and I cover all aspects from political to social to financial.
I love the humming, the won’t-they-won’t-they, the kite flying. We can parse, analyze and explain what just happened and what it means to readers and listeners in exceptionally quick order.
I’m vaguely aware that in some remote corners of normalcy, not everyone is up and about. Extraordinary, but here we go. In fact, I’m still reeling from the shock of calling a friend on my way home last year to excitedly discuss one of Paschal Donohoe’s more obscure actions, only for her to say, ‘Oh, the budget. Was it today?”
Or the family member who called to ask “what all this means to them.” “Which part?” I asked. “Well, any of that. I wasn’t really paying attention, it’s so boring.”
You are now both banned from all phone lists and social media.
You’ll probably agree that the top tax margins and excise duties are the really exciting things, but you’ll still find me taking the time to dig into the beef import tariffs or the permitted milligram CO2 emissions changes.
The devil is, as the saying goes, in the details. Often so detailed that the responsible ministers are overlooked. The post-budget press conferences tend to be high on, well, highlights and all too short on the essentials.
The really revealing things will only come when the finance bill is published. Bet you can’t wait, right?
There are some who would argue that the tag itself is just a bit of silly theater, but who doesn’t love panto? Paschal the Prince plays Aladdin or Dick Whittington depending on the magical envelopes at his disposal. Then there are the opposition’s evil opponents with their ready-made scripts spluttering with indignation. There’s plenty of riches (this year at least), a confusing storyline, and plenty of cheers and boos along the way.
So, coming out of all the fuss this morning, what’s your take? Did you win? Have you lost? As every year, if you spent yesterday under a rock, the answer is yes.
Enjoy today’s 24-page special supplement. It was a pleasure and a hell of a job pulling together.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/it-happens-but-once-a-year-the-great-panto-of-budget-day-with-a-cash-beanstalk-for-a-stage-42022474.html It happens once a year: the Big Panto of Budget Day, with a collected beanstalk for a stage