Is it really revenue neutral?
Short answer: Only if you accept the broadest possible definition of what qualifies as a tax cut. But then, that's pretty much the definition we've been accepting for years.
Straightforward tax cuts, in the form of reductions to business and income taxes, add up to roughly $9-billion in Year 4 of the Liberal plan. The rest of the more than $15-billion the party expects its carbon tax to generate would go mostly toward spending initiatives dressed up as tax benefits and credits - a $465-million supplement for low-income workers, a $150 supplement for every rural resident (totalling $749-million) to help pay their bills, a $600-million capital cost allowance for green technologies, another $400-million for R&D, an $800-million boost to the guaranteed income supplement for low-income seniors. Biggest of all is a nearly $3-billion child tax benefit - quite possibly a worthwhile expenditure, as are many of the others, but not exactly a tax cut in the traditional sense of the word.
No, I suppose not. Quite right. I still wouldn't call it a 'social program' either, but at least someone is looking at this with a level head for a change.
My argument would be as follows:
Tax cuts benefit those who make enough money to pay taxes. The richer you are, the more you benefit. Tax credits (specifically refundable credits) benefit those who DON'T make very much money. The poor. The self-employed. Those in the film and television industry.
And since the 'Green Shift Plan' (can we call it that?) incorporates both tax cuts AND tax credits, and will therefore return all of the carbon tax to rich and poor, individuals and businesses, in proportions that approximate their ability to absorb the additional cost, I'm not sure how that isn't "revenue neutral".
But kudos to Radwanski for making a well thought-out critique of the 'Liberal Green Shift' (can we call it that?). Again, this is what we call civilized debate.