Personally, I don't think Mulcair will be able to balance the budget either, and if he actually believes that he either knows something most people don't or he has my pity. I think it's more the case that despite the fact that Mulcair represents the NDP which has the "best" fiscal record of any of the big three parties (via its provincial counterparts), the NDP is routinely pilloried in the capitalist press as out-of-control big spenders. (The variants of the Conservative Party have the worst record when it comes to deficits and unemployment, but the capitalist press, consciously or not, ignores this fact and attributes fiscal rectitude to them. Probably because they like the source of Conservative deficits; these being tax-cuts, military spending, corporate subsidies and corruption for the elites.) So, Mulcair pretty much HAS to insist on balancing the budget.
At the same time, he shouldn't waste his time condemning Trudeau for acknowledging the possibility of deficits (or for speaking the truth about the abuses of the small business tax credits). This could haunt him when it comes time to look at the books; plus it just contributes to the general public's ignorance and confusion about economic realities. Plus, it's the wrong way to attack the Liberals because it feeds into Conservative mythology.
Scott Piatkowski (who is a die-hard NDP'r who has descended into embarrassing apologias for the party in the past) has a better response. One which focuses on the Liberals un-proud tradition of campaigning on the left and governing from the right. (As the now detestable Kathleen Wynne did recently in Ontario.) It also gives a good summary of the decent social-democratic platform that Cueball spoke about a few weeks ago ...
1. There is nothing inherently progressive about running a deficit. The reality is that good or bad fiscal and political choices can be made by a government regardless of the colour of the ink on their financial statements.
2. There are different ways of balancing a budget, and there are different ways of running a deficit. Paul Martin balanced the budget by slashing transfer payments and social spending (something that Justin Trudeau has said was the right thing to do), while Stephen Harper ran repeated deficits because he cut corporate taxes (something that Justin Trudeau voted for). It's perfectly possible -- and perfectly progressive -- to balance a budget while doing neither.
3. Running deficits when they are not necessary can impede governments from taking progressive actions in the near and distant future. That's why Tommy Douglas ran seventeen balanced budgets as Premier of Saskatchewan, while bringing in a wide array of progressive policies that culminated in medicare. And that's why NDP governments actually have the best fiscal record of any political party.
But, of course, there is more to this election is about more than a choice between deficits and surpluses.
This election is also about who will repeal the draconian Bill C-51. The NDP will. The Liberals won't (Why would they? They voted for it.)
It's about who will deliver quality affordable child care and pharmacare to Canadians. The NDP will. The Liberals won't (they used to at least pretend that they were in favour of both; now they denounce both as unaffordable).
It's about who will increase corporate taxes, crack down on tax havens and remove the stock option tax loophole that costs the tax base $750 million each year. The NDP will. The Liberals won't.
The NDP will reinstate the federal minimum wage that the Liberals abolished and to move it to a living wage of $15 an hour. They've also promised to restore the federal role in housing that that the Liberals ended and to renew expiring federal subsidies to housing co-op members.
The NDP has promised to launch an inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women within 100 days of being sworn in. They've promised to expand the CPP, increase the Guaranteed Income Supplement for Seniors, prohibit changes to private pension plans, and restore the retirement age to 65. They've promised to increase funding forinfrastructure and transit and to cancel plans to end home delivery of mail. The Liberals have offered similar or lesser versions of the commitments listed in this paragraph.
None of these ambitious commitments are the sign of a New Democratic Party that is moving to the centre. In fact, quite the opposite. There's absolutely no evidence that the NDP is running to the right of the Liberals (or even in the same lane).