The Chancellor gives a huge pre-election bribe to the moderately wealthy over 65s, and describes the fact that everyone who can is trying to get hold of the bribe (and completely overwhelming the NS&I as a result) as a great success.  Chris Dillow describes this as corruption. To their credit, right wing think tanks have also condemned it for what it is. But the Chancellor says this is all part of his economic plan.
I suspect the penny is beginning to drop in mediamacro. This was supposed to be a government where deficit reduction was the overriding priority. It was of such importance that it was worth the risk (which materialised) of delaying the recovery until 2013 to achieve. Hard, sometimes painful choices had to be made to achieve the goal of reducing the deficit. A Chancellor who was prepared to do unpopular things for the greater good. The essence of responsibility.
Unless you were a top rate tax payer, of course. Or, following the Prime Minister’s conference speech last year, a moderately well off taxpayer. And now if you are moderately well off and over 65. Penny dropped? But this last example also tells mediamacro a difficult truth. Its modus operandi is that it can rely on the opposition to expose such things, but Labour appears to have been silent on this. Obviously, because these kind of bribes work because those that receive it are thankful and the much larger number who pay for it are not so fussed.  So it needs to seek out those who will call a spade a spade. It has a responsibility to do so. This time it could use right wing think tanks. Next time it may have to resort to economists who write blogs.
Chris Giles, economics editor of the FT, wrote an interesting opinion piece a few days ago. It appears at first sight to be an attack on Labour’s record in opposition. But it ends with “the intriguing thing about Mr Miliband’s Labour party is that its broad economic prospectus for the 2015 general election is perfectly sensible.” In contrast “the Tories’ plans appear ideological and border on calamitous for many public services.” If you want more detail on this, see my debate with Oliver Kamm in Prospect magazine. So his article is a form of puzzle: how did responsible Tories and reckless Labour change places?
One possibility, of course, is that there never was a puzzle. Chris lists many alleged failings by Labour, but a lot look superficial and presentational to me. Furthermore (and I know Chris will not want to admit this) when Ed Balls said Osborne was cutting too far too fast, he was right. In particular, public investment (school repairs, flood prevention) was cut immediately when there was no need to do so to meet the coalition's fiscal rules. Those who think it had to be done to appease the market should reflect on the fact that Britain lost its AAA rating because of weak growth, and pretty well everyone thinks that public investment has the largest GDP multiplier.
It is the media’s responsibility, which Chris for his part has grudgingly fulfilled, to point out - one way or another - who has the more responsible macroeconomic plan post 2015. The opposition will not make that case, because it has become terrified of being labelled spendthrift. Yet it is hard to find a macroeconomist who does not think Labour has the better macro policy from 2015, whatever their views about 2010 austerity. A responsible media needs to get this point across, just as it needs to point out pre-election bribes.
 Once upon a time NS&I was just a way that the government could sell its debt to ordinary people at slightly below market rates because it was safer than banks. However after the financial crisis, when it became clear how risky banks were, the government seems to have contracted the range of products that NS&I sell, I guess because of lobbying by these same banks. Once you could buy indexed linked assets from NS&I - no longer. Now it has become a vehicle for giving bribes to selected groups of savers.
 This is the ‘common pool problem’, one of the reasons economists give to explain deficit bias, which is of course being irresponsible about the deficit.