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An honest left-wing government says that more equality is worth paying for. So it raises taxes, preferably on the rich, to pay for new social spending. Call it the Robin Hood approach.

There are plenty of ways to criticize this. You can say higher taxes are unjust or that they chase away investment and talent. You can say government spending is often wasteful or counterproductive. But at least it’s an ethos.

Ontario’s Liberal government is all left-wing, no ethos. In the past few years, it has launched a raft of policies that should be the toast of every NDP voter in the province.

Even before Wednesday’s budget, Premier Kathleen Wynne gave us rent control, tuition subsidies for the poor, pharmacare for kids and youth, a $15 minimum wage, and a cap-and-trade carbon-reduction program.

In its new budget, the government has gone further, vowing to fill yet more gaps in the welfare state: free drugs for seniors, free post-secondary tuition for the poor and lower-middle-class, and free child care for preschoolers older than two-and-a-half.

Wait, there’s more: money for seniors to live at home, billions for mental-health services, $1.8-billion for people with developmental disabilities.

You might expect all this latest spending to require big tax increases. But no. The Wynne government has neglected to increase its revenues adequately to pay for its promises.

Instead, it is borrowing money and hoping voters won’t care. As a result, the government expects to run a $6.7-billion deficit this year, with virtually identical deficits in the next two years. Raising taxes marginally could have wiped them out, but the Liberals don’t have the courage to do that.

They make government look downright easy. You just come up with things that would be nice to have and then promise them to voters.

Some of the programs have a defensible rationale. Drug and dental benefits are an answer, in part, to a growing cadre of contract and freelance workers who don’t have steady insurance through an employer.

Daycare for kids between two-and-a-half and kindergarten responds to ballooning child-care costs. Helping seniors stay in their homes makes sense for an aging population.

Fine. Ms. Wynne is not spending this money just to bribe voters, as she is often accused of doing. She clearly has left-wing instincts and thinks government should pay for programs to reduce what she calls the “deficits” in people’s lives.

But if she believes in these things, then she should have the courage to sell the tax increases needed to pay for them. Progressive Conservative Leader Doug Ford says the Liberals will pay for this budget with “massive” tax hikes. That, unfortunately, is just not true.

The budget does contain a few small tax increases. The province’s personal income-tax revenue is going up by $275-million. But that’s nothing. These are not “tax-and-spend” Liberals. These are “borrow-and-spend” Liberals.

All of this means more debt for Ontario, on top of the more than $300-billion of net debt the province already has.

Finance Minister Charles Sousa boasted Wednesday that the province’s debt-to-GDP ratio has “fallen steadily,” but that is only true over the last three years. Before that, also under the Liberals, it grew steadily. And now it is projected to start growing again.

The government also argues that it is taking advantage of low interest rates. But even with low rates, interest on Ontario’s debt will cost taxpayers $12.5-billion in this budget alone. That’s eight cents of every dollar of revenue. Debt servicing will be the government’s second-fastest-growing area of spending in the next couple of years – a period during which interest rates could well begin to rise.

Ms. Wynne and her party are understandably focused on the coming general-election campaign. This budget will protect their left flank from attacks by the NDP.

The new social spending also serves to heighten the contrast between the Wynne Liberals and the PC Party, which is led by a right-wing populist in Mr. Ford.

That contrast might help them, but it will more likely hurt them. Mr. Ford, ahead in the polls, now has something concrete to run against: a left-leaning budget that chooses the easy path of deficit spending instead of the far more difficult route of fiscal responsibility. That sort of thing is his political meat and potatoes, and he is going to eat it up.

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