New Greens leader Christine Milne says Opposition Leader Tony Abbott is to blame for creating an environment where Labor feels it is locked into delivering a budget surplus in the May budget even though economic circumstances have changed.
Have the Liberals been keen to highlight the government's fiscal excesses over the last four years? Yes. That is the opposition's job, after all.
But the reason that Julia Gillard and Wayne Swan are so politically wedded to the delivery of a budget surplus in May is very simple. They promised it. Over and over again.
When the government's fiscal credibility was thrown into jeopardy by billions of wasted stimulus dollars, Labor told the electorate that it would prove itself. The budget would be returned to surplus in 2012-13, and that would put the government's economic credentials beyond doubt.
The government will be judged by the measure of performance that Wayne Swan himself has repeatedly laid out. Tony Abbott did not promise the Australian people that Labor would deliver this surplus. Labor did.