Laura Tingle in today's Financial Review:
"The media has been a bit dazed and confused about the budget. But then it has seemed at times the government has also been a bit confused. For example, Treasurer Wayne Swan spent the first half of his Press Club speech on Wednesday defending previous stimulus packages.
And of course there was the perplexing gap between the "hard choices" rhetoric and the reality, a sufficient gap to prompt discrete inquiries about whether there had been some last-minute chickening out on the part of the government.
No. It seems not. But this says much about the culture of largesse - and how it has influenced politicians' views of just what constitute "hard choices" - in the past decade...
In budget lock-ups, ministers and political staffers circulate, advocating their budget strategy with journalists, sniffing out signs of impending critical coverage.
On Tuesday night, ministers and staffers seemed at times perplexed and shocked at the feedback that their spending cuts weren't tough enough. In other words, the government had gone into the budget feeling it really had made tough choices and had been expecting some broadsheet reward for it...
The full thing's in print, or here, following payment