His so-called "Granny Tax" was a classic ploy of the kind oft-favoured by Gordon Brown, slipped into the budget and mentioned only fleetingly in the hope no-one would notice. It turns out that tinkering George is Gordon's son and heir. At the very least Osborne should have made a proper argument for his decision instead of trying to finesse it so it seemed as though it weren't what it actually is.
The substance of the matter is a different thing and here, for once, Osborne has it right. Why should the wealthiest generation of pensioners this country has ever known be spared a modest tax increase at a time when everyone else is expected to pay more and when, incidentally, the old receive a greater share of public spending than they can have at any previous point in this island's history. This is all perfectly proper, for sure, and we should love the elderly as individuals even as we also worry about the costs of an ageing population. (Partial solution? More, not less, immigration.)
Pensioners vote and the young do not so it is not a surprise that politicians are wary of taking on the grey lobby. Nevertheless, in tough times it's not plainly obvious that pensioners, already excused National Insurance, should receive more generous allowances than non-pensioners. And for all the chuntering about the "Granny Tax" it is not as though Osborne made a radical or, if you prefer, modest proposal along the lines of offering tax credits or generous allowances to the heirs of pensioners who plump for voluntary, patriotic euthanasia...
UPDATE: Daniel Knowles has a typically astute take on all this.