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The (too) big tricks of Jean-Luc Mélenchon

HASAttacked on the realism of its economic project, the Nupes, the alliance of left-wing parties, called a press conference on Tuesday, June 7 to defend the seriousness of its proposals and thus focus the attention of the media a few days before first round of legislative elections. “The Terra Nova Foundation, which did no work, attacked us by copying the Institut Montaigne: so much the better, we were very happy because it launched the debate”, quipped Jean-Luc Mélenchon, candidate self-proclaimed Prime Minister without running for deputy.

If the leader of Nupes did not answer questions from journalists – he left it to the economists of his campaign and his lieutenants to take care of it – he deployed all his oratorical art to attack the results of the first five-year term of Emmanuel Macron and the prospect of the second in the event that the president has a majority in the National Assembly. Jean-Luc Mélenchon initially regretted that “the debate does not [puisse] not take place since nobody wants to debate with [eux] “. The re-elected president is accused of having “anesthetized” the campaign to avoid popular mobilization.

“The state is collapsing”

Criticized on the 250 billion public expenditure per year – 10 points of GDP! – which he foresees after 5 years, Jean-Luc Mélenchon has applied the maxim that the best defense is attack. For Nupes, Emmanuel Macron’s first five-year term was an “economic disaster”. He wants proof of this in the trade deficit which widened to reach 100 billion over 12 months in March, which does not lack air for someone who wants to relaunch consumption with a rise in the minimum wage, hiring civil servants and household benefits. For Jean-Luc Mélenchon, it is the “supply policy”, centered on the production conditions of companies and initiated by François Hollande at the end of 2012, which is responsible for the deterioration of the trade deficit. As it would be responsible, via its “140 billion tax gifts”, for the state deficit, dug to mitigate the consequences of the Covid crisis on the economy.

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According to the leader of La France insoumise, Emmanuel Macron, after having managed whatever it costs, is preparing an immense austerity cure which does not say its name, since the tenant of the Élysée has pledged to return under 3% deficit in relation to GDP by 2027. Savings that the pretender to Matignon figures at 80 billion per year, the equivalent of the budgets of the ministries of the Interior and National Education, while “the ‘State is collapsing’, under the effect of the austerity policies carried out so far. As proof, he points to the dreaded closures of hospital emergency services in the summer. “It’s the biggest bloodletting we’ve ever seen”, he is indignant, before sweeping away any other dimension: “The rest is just a lie. »

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A few days before the first round of legislative elections on Saturday, the tribune is in great shape. He forgets to say that the public deficit should normally decrease mechanically under the effect of the end of the emergency measures against the health crisis, such as those of the recovery plan. Emmanuel Macron’s campaign teams have also already warned that the deficit reduction objective would be adapted according to the new economic context created by the war in Ukraine.

To better regret the current president’s lack of vision, Jean-Luc Mélenchon took the example of Germany, which has planned to incur 100 billion in additional expenditure for its defense and has decided to increase the minimum wage by “25 %”, without specifying that the minimum wage there is lower or that inflation is higher.

The Chirac example

According to him, his 250 billion additional expenses after 5 years correspond to the increase in expenses made by Jacques Chirac (182 billion between 2002 and 2007). Understand: it remains reasonable. Except that this is additional discretionary public spending on top of the natural increase from year to year! Which should do a whole lot more…

Jean-Luc Mélenchon also denies any drop in unemployment, the rate of which nevertheless fell from 9.6% of the active population at the end of the first quarter of 2017 to 7.3% at the end of the first quarter of 2022, and accuses the President to have concealed its rise with apprenticeship subsidies. And gets angry at journalists who tell him the opposite, like this Tuesday, June 7 on France Inter. While apprenticeship bonuses may explain a small part of the decline, they are not enough to explain the sharp drop in unemployment as a percentage of the working population. Especially since many young people would have been studying anyway, and would not have joined the ranks of the unemployed if they had not had the status of apprentices… The employment rate of the population has even increased since the end of the health crisis. Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who sets himself up as an economist – instilling doubt in passing over a reference statistic, the unemployment rate calculated by INSEE – prefers to focus attention on the figures for the number of registered at Pôle Emploi in absolute terms. Bad luck, they are also down for categories A, B and C combined, by 386,000 people.

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For Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the seriousness of his program of “government by the needs” of the population is, on the contrary, attested by the fact that it would have been scrutinized by the economic model of the Banque de France. Its 250 billion in revenue would give, as if by magic, 267 billion in expenditure through the game of multipliers which would like one euro of public expenditure to produce more GDP.

Point showed that this strong argument was very questionable. As the Nupes recognized, La France insoumise did not have access to the Banque de France model but to its main results. She changed the multiplier assumption for capital expenditures to a more favorable value, on the pretext that the institution was pessimistic. Above all, the Banque de France model does not prove much about the economic effect of its gigantic credit-financed recovery: the revenue promised by Jean-Luc Mélenchon is based on very questionable assumptions of what tax measures would bring. miracles (and very difficult to implement) to fight against tax evasion (26 billion) or the universal corporate tax (26 billion). And, whatever he says, his pension reform would be a real money pit and would reduce the employment rate for seniors, while France needs contributions to support its generous social model. In short, the demonstration – brilliant in form – struggles to convince in substance.

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