Look at the budget documents. The data is right there. All anyone has to do is look at the expenditures. Since 1999 until now, government expenditures are up 50%. Had there been some fiscal responsibility exercised, we could have had the debt reduced a whole bunch more.
The other thing that a lot of people do not realize is that under the Liberal watch the debt grew from $480 billion to over $550 billion. I think it was around $558 billion or thereabouts. Again, the numbers were conflicting when I was getting information from the Library this morning.
The fact is that the debt grew under the Liberals and now they have managed to bring it down to about the level that it was in 1993 when they were first in power. Now we are back, after 12 years of Liberal government, to where it was when it took over and yet it is saying that in nine years of Conservative government we should have tackled the deficit then. It was a huge debt that was foisted on us by the Liberals.
However let us look at this honestly. Debt reduction should be a high priority. It is for Canadians and it should be for the government. We should stop wasting taxpayer money without accountability, as the government is so prone to do. Canadians and taxpayers are outraged when they hear the reports of the various abuses of their money by the Liberals, their agents and their friends who are appointed to various patronage appointments, and the way they use it. That is an affront to them and I think it is shameful.
The next topic is with respect to tax reduction. I would like to point out that the member for Okanagan—Coquihalla gave a little speech and talked about the Laffer curve.
I was a math physics major and I did not know a great deal about economics until I was put on the finance committee. I was told that I was a numbers guy and that maybe I could do some good there. I really enjoyed my work on the finance committee. I did a little bit of reading on economics. I stand here, not as an expert in economics. I took one course at university but it had been so many years ago that I did not remember much but I do remember the Laffer curve. It is an absolutely fabulous concept and one I think we ought to use more, especially because inadvertently the finance minister in his speech this morning talked about it.
The finance minister indicated that although the tax rates for businesses had gone down, the revenue the government receives from business taxation has gone up. That is a very important point. We do not build the economy by overtaxing people. We receive a certain amount of revenue from a high tax rate but if the tax rate is lowered the economy flourishes. Businesses, entrepreneurs and investors can do so much better with the money than just send it to Ottawa and hope some bureaucratic process will send some of it back to some of the people, be they dead people or people in prison when it comes to a rebate, such as the one that is being planned now. We are very anxious to see how that will work out.
However if we were to leave that money in the hands of the taxpayers, the entrepreneurs, the businesses, the investors, private individuals and families, it would be used much more efficiently and would have a much more positive impact on the economy. We could actually reduce the tax rates and increase tax revenue and thereby have more money available for the government programs Canadians would like to have or demand in some cases.
It is very important that there be good solid fiscal management in this way and it ought to be done on good financial forecasting and on good economic principles. Those things have been missing, in my view, in terms of what the government has done.
The third thing in the bill concerns government spending. The government says that it will use one-third of the surplus for government spending. I fail to understand that. When the Minister of Finance reads his budget every year he should be projecting the expenditures. The government already has a $3 billion contingency fund in case something happens, some tragedy or national emergency. I have no problem with that but it should be able to project very accurately the total expenditures.
I do not understand how the government can say that if there is an unexpected surplus, one-third of it will be just a free for all. It will be like a big lottery win for the Liberal Party to be hauled out at the next election. To me that is very wrong.