Colin Espiner sums up why National had to swallow the dead rat of Welfare for Families:
Has Key had an ideological change of heart? Unlikely. I suspect his deputy Bill English and National’s Treasury secondee have been wrestling with the numbers and concluded that it’s just too hard to unpick the scheme and replace it with tax cuts that favour the upper end of the income scale without chucking out the whole model and starting again.
And this wasn’t an option, given the current state of household budgets and rising costs. Going into an election campaign promising to take money off people, even if it was being replaced with a tax cut, was never going to be a good look. Key has decided, once again, that it’s better to swallow the short-term embarrassment of another me-too National policy than suffer a hit in the polls.
Yes, it’s opportunistic, pragmatic, realpolitik. It may make the purer bluebloods within National gnash their teeth and shake their heads. After all, isn’t WFF exactly the kind of anti-aspirational, low productivity handout that the party has always railed against?
Yes, but just like interest free student loans, bad policy is sometimes good politics and too many people are getting money from WFF to risk the electoral backlash from ditching it.