George Osborne continues to make the same error he made in previous budgets. He is assuming the British economy will return to robust growth from 2014 onwards and that this will deliver the higher tax revenues needed to achieve his deficit reduction plan.
Growth has ground to a halt, real wages are falling and more than 6m people want work but can't find it: yet our chancellor continues to fiddle - with beer duties and the pottery industry - as the British economy flatlines. The inconvenient truth is that George Osborne has become Labour's greatest electoral asset.
We love the idea of punishing bad behaviour by the press - but public support for the principle of underpinning this by law is more muted.
George Osborne must resist the temptation to use the Budget unilaterally to try and force multinationals to pay more tax in the UK in an ill-considered way and without consultation. The wheels are already in motion internationally to address contentious issues such as so-called 'profit shifting' and other measures that erode the tax base.
I am not advocating that the government drops all the austerity measures, starts borrowing huge amounts of money and cuts personal tax rates for the rich. But we do need to focus on the things we know will give our economy the boost it so desperately needs so that people have more money to spend to help our economy grow.
The Chancellor recently appeared before the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards, where he reiterated the need to increase competition in the financial sector through reform. He has for a long time championed competition as being key to a banking industry that offers customers better products and services. An industry that puts the customer first. And that is absolutely right. Change is inevitable and reform is right.
Gideon is due to present his latest budget tomorrow and you can bet any last few coins you might have left - if you're a victim of Tory/Coalition policies since 2010 - that there won't be any good news for those of us "all in it together" at the bottom of the economic pile.
As an SME owner, I'll be watching the announcement of the budget on Wednesday with interest on more than one front. My perspective will not only be that of an employer, but also of an individual and a consumer.
We all know that the Chancellor has limited room for manoeuvre. All the signs are this is going to be a cautious budget, maintaining the overall direction of government policy.
So George Osborne has lost his treasured AAA rating. We are now heading for record consecutive quarters of stop-start growth. Youth unemployment is at an all-time high. Neither the deficit nor the debt is coming down and there's no money to do anything about it. If we want to spend more we have to borrow more, and even Ed Balls can't be sure we'll end up better off if we do.
The sad truth is that the UK government has been running deficits for over a decade. General gross debt rose from 37% of GDP in 2001-02 to 44% of GDP in 2007-08 when strong growth should have led to healthy surpluses. Years of unsustainable discretionary spending and tax policies have left a ticking time bomb at the heart of the public finances.
Between 2000 and 2008, the tax on a bottle of wine increased by 15%. In the four years from 2008, the year Alastair Darling introduced the duty escalator, it has increased by 46%. It doesn't take a genius to link the steep rise with the wider economic circumstances. Put simply, tax on alcohol is a cash cow for the government that is being used to try and plug a budget deficit rather than change the way people drink.
There's been a lot of chatter in recent days about the budget. But it has lacked passion. It has utterly failed to engage the great British public. Why is this?
I think we can all agree that the level of debt and deficit within government and consumer accounts needs to be reduced in the long-term. Debt is no gift to leave to future generations, as Ralph Waldo Emerson said; "a man in debt is so far a slave".
David Cameron did a good job of changing the way the Conservatives were perceived. He made them electable by painting the picture of a more centre ground, caring, inclusive political party. But this portrait, so carefully rendered, has turned out to be a highly idealised one.
On Saturday morning, I'm meeting Alexis Tsipras, the leader of the Greek Opposition and head of the left-wing Syriza coalition. We will be talking about the spectre that's haunting Europe: austerity. It may seem that Britain and Greece - at almost opposite ends of Europe - have little in common. In fact, we have lots in common, and lots to discuss.