In a new memo prepared by the NDP, the party costs its main requests. The NDP wants the budget to include $700-million to raise the Guaranteed Income Supplement for low-income seniors; a doubling of the Canada Pension Plan benefit through higher premiums; a $700-million proposal to cut the GST on home heating fuels; $200-million to revive the home energy retrofit incentive, and longer-term pledges to improve health care.
Budget leaks have confirmed the final two of those demands will be met. There will likely be something for seniors (there always is), but Jack is unlikely to see his demands for an expanded CPP or a cut to the GST on home heating fuels met. So, all in all, about a 50% grade - depending on the curve, that could either be a pass or a fail.
In effect, Harper's overtures give Layton a way out if he wants one. It may just be table scraps, but it's enough to claim "results for people" and put off an election if Layton wants to put off an election.
It's very similar to what Harper tossed Duceppe on the weekend, when it was leaked there was a "draft deal" between Flaherty and Bachand on the HST. It's not in the budget, so there's no reason for Duceppe to support the budget...but he could probably justify propping up the government to help finalize the deal.
Without making any real concessions, Harper has given two of the opposition parties a way out if they want one. We'll soon find out if they want one.