The former Labour Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Liam Byrne, summed things up rather well when he left a note for his successor which simply read: "I'm afraid to tell you there is no money. Kind regards and good luck!"
He claimed that it was a joke. If so, it was at the expense of the British people who will have to pick up the tab for the huge bills that Labour ran up during 13 years of economic mismanagement.
Of course he wasn't telling us something that we didn't already know. Britain has the second largest budget deficit in Europe. We are borrowing £1 for every £4 we spend. And every man, woman and child in this country owes a staggering £22,400.
If that's not bad enough, we have two and a half million people unemployed - including one in five young people. This is Labour's appalling legacy.
So we knew that Tuesday's Emergency Budget was going to be tough. And so it was. But it was also fair.
Nearly a million people on the lowest earnings will be lifted out of income tax altogether. The link between the state pension and earnings will be re-established. An extra £2 billion in child tax credits will be set aside for the poorest families. And the public sector pay freeze will only apply to those earning more than £21,000 a year.
So the Chancellor meant it when he said we're all in this together. The burden will be shared by everyone and, proportionally, people at the lower end of the income scale will pay less than those at the upper end. And we will protect the most vulnerable people in our society, including children and pensioners.
There will be cuts. As a country, we've lived beyond our means for far too long and tough action is both necessary and unavoidable.
But there will also be measures to get the economy back on track and lay the foundations for future prosperity. Key to this will be the reductions in tax rates for businesses large and small. In the end, it's the private sector that will create the wealth and jobs that will get us out of this mess.