This was a tough budget. It had to be.
Britain is borrowing more than any country in the G20. As the economy recovers, that borrowing must be cut or the consequences will be dire.
Dire means higher interest rates. Higher mortgage rates. Higher borrowing costs for business. Across Kingston, that would see family budgets hit much harder than by the budget’s tax rises – and local businesses cutting back on investment.
Interest rates are of course likely to go up in the future. Today’s rates are historically low – but if government borrowing isn’t cut sharply now, future rises will be larger and faster.
We don’t want to face a crisis like Greece.
Let’s face it - the public sector has grown dramatically in recent years. Much of that growth is welcome – especially in terms of investment in schools, extra police and so on. Yet some of that growth has seen waste and inefficiency.
By cutting some public spending, to rein back borrowing, and thereby allowing interest rates to be lower, the private sector can grow, to take up "the slack".
Key for the economy now is to stimulate that growth in the private sector.
When my colleague Vince Cable talks about "rebalancing the economy" he means creating the conditions for manufacturing to prosper, and not just financial services. He means a focus on investment and exporting, not just debt-driven consumption. And he means addressing serious borrowing problems inherited from Gordon Brown.
But while the budget was tough, it was also fair. Taking the lowest paid out of income tax was something Liberal Democrats campaigned for hard during the election. It’s now happening.