By repeatedly criticising the Chancellor for missing his deficit targets, the party risks reinforcing the impression that borrowing is always an economic ill.
Having previously briefed that Osborne was planning a pre-election give-away of shares, the Tories changed tack after Balls's intervention.
The challenge is to build, within those constraints, a project that is distinct from the coalition’s offer of slow immiseration for the many and impunity for the few.
Contrary to what conservatives suggest, Balls hasn't capitulated to Osborne. He supports stimulus now and investment after 2015.
While Miliband once said he would "keep the 50p rate permanently", Balls says he would "rather get tax rates down".
Free schools, Police and Crime Commissioners, Titan prisons and army admirals are targeted for cuts.
Not only will Labour be unable to reverse the coalition's cuts, it will have to make its own.
Balls's announcement is an attempt to exploit the divide between the Tories and Lib Dems on this issue and to demonstrate his commitment to fiscal discipline.
David Cameron has failed to bring forward the changes which are needed to bring transparency. Labour would develop a robust and effective corporation tax system.
"There is no doubt this policy is driving people to the edge of despair," says the shadow chancellor in response to the case of Stephanie Bottrill.