I'm afraid I am going to sound like a broken record, but the news today that the IFS reckons Alistair Darling has underestimated borrowing by £39 billion a year will shock few. But what is his solution?
There are only two. Put up taxes or cut spending. He's already putting up the top rate of tax and increasing national insurance, but if you raise taxes too highly you run the risk of depressing the economy even further. No, the answer is to cut spending and cut it meaningfully. There is no alternative, and I was glad to hear George Osborne say so on the Today Programme this morning. However, he used the term "spending restraint" rather than "spending cuts". Perhaps in his mind they mean the same thing, but I wonder. We need a change in mindset here. All past promises about spending promises should be jettisoned. No departments should be immune.
Osborne also made clear the Tories would fight any proposal for a further fiscal stimulus in the budget. He said that adding to debt would mean the government would show that it was uninterested in fiscal sustainability.
If Alistair Darling doesn't do it voluntarily, the IMF may well make him, because if he doesn't bring the public finances under control, there's only one way we're heading - and that's to the IMF.