Emmanuel Macron expands “whatever it costs”

Emmanuel Macron expands "whatever it costs"

It was a little over a year ago, in the late summer of 2021. The onslaught of Covid-19 seemed to want to slow down and the election campaign got off to a slow start. It is clear that after eighteen months of uninterrupted support for households and businesses, public finance issues will once again come to the fore.

Faced with €150 billion raised by public authorities and a budget deficit exceeding 9% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), it’s hard to look away. The crisis of 2008 showed this: France can lose the support of the financial markets at any moment. “Whatever it is, it’s over”also warned Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire before executives gathered for a Medef summer school, preparing people for some form of budget normalization.

Inflation rocked the agenda

Politically, too, the austerity believed that their time had come. The timing was opportune: across the Channel, facing a sharp rise in debt, restoring the government accounts became a priority, Boris Johnson even announced a tax increase for companies.

In France, former Prime Minister Edouard Philippe founded his new party, Horizons, with a clear manifesto: “Get your accounts in order. » And the case saw a boulevard opening up in front of him, preparing to attack Emmanuel Macron for his management of taxpayers’ money, accusing him, according to Valerie Pecres’s formula, of “burn the box” with each announcement.

Read also The article is reserved for our subscribers War in Ukraine: Faced with soaring energy prices, executive faces specter of new ‘whatever’

Logically, the end of Covid-19 should have led to a phase of “fiscal consolidation”, as experts say. But the story did not go as planned. Inflation caused by the deficit and then the war in Ukraine has shaken the agenda, making it impossible to quickly exit the policy of supporting the economy. The executive had to keep the floodgates open, determined to protect households more than anywhere else in Europe. The arbitration that the draft budget for 2023, which begins on Monday, October 10, in the National Assembly, reaffirms the maintenance of the tariff shield, which will cost 45 billion euros per year.

At the same time, the head of state did not have to take the political and social risks of returning to Orthodoxy, which seemed inevitable. A scenario that does not inspire joy. “Austerity policies could have been explosive at the end of the health crisis, highlighting the hardships of frontline and secondline workersrecalls Emmanuel Riviere, director of Kantar Public. Especially since the deterioration of public services was a theme that was present even before Covid. »

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