Patrick Gower: 'The Cash Bribe Budget'
OPINION: This year's Budget is a $2 billion election bribe.
Steven Joyce has rained down cash on almost everybody.
But there is a catch: it doesn't kick in until April next year - meaning you have to vote National come September 23.
It is a straight-out cash bribe.
It is a lolly scramble using the ultimate lolly - cash.
It is the ultimate election year Budget.
The average wage is $59,000 - and the tax changes mean everyone on over $52,000 a year gets to keep an extra $20 a week or about $1000 a year.
That's a decent wedge.
Then there is a rise in Working for Families and the accommodation supplement - meaning low and middle income earners get even more of a hit.
Joyce has gone for a massive spray of cash over almost everybody he can.
Joyce has managed to get his package to benefit 1.3 million Kiwi families by an average of $26 a week.
In the process he's helped out most of National's core voters with a $1000 annual tax cut - a nice round figure.
But he's gone further with a major incursion into Labour territory with the changes for low and middle income earners - the "Kiwi battlers" living on "Struggle Street".
The 1.3 million Kiwi families are the exact same families National wants to target with its election advertising - and what better advertising is there than cash?
This is a Budget designed to win an election - a Budget to make people vote National.
National has built towards this for years, it has got the surpluses and it has been desperate to give some cash back.
The tax changes will cost a massive $1.9 billion a year - although just under $600 million goes back in GST. So it is about $1.3 billion that could have been spent on other things like hospitals and schools.
Steven Joyce is a deeply political individual and has got his hands on the country's books when there has been some money to spread around.
Joyce is banking on the bribe working - if people happily take a bribe, then it is no problem. His argument is that people deserve to share in the growth.
He has gone full-tilt for the Cash Bribe Budget. Judgement day is September 23.
Patrick Gower is Newshub's political editor.