All the speculation and spin in the run up to the budget was that we were about to be crucified and I fully expected lots of pain but instead Michael Noonan pulled a delaying tactic by getting just enough out of consumption taxes and other changes to avoid hitting income.
It's probably a smart move for two reasons. People spend what they think they will have, a 2% increase in VAT will hurt but if people saw their pay packets 2% lighter in January that would have hurt more and many would have cut spending even more. Secondly we are not really in control of our financial future. This budget is a side show on the collapse or not of the Euro. The government could have made a series of unpopular decisions only to have the situation deteriorate or improve at the next EU summit.
To a degree they have kicked the can down the road hoping that by the time budget 2013 comes along things will be better but if they are not then they will be able to blame the EU for unpopular income tax increases.
The Metro Herald headline summed it up this morning "It could have been worse"