Francois Hollande is down and out in Paris, his popularity rating as President having fallen faster and further than that of any other president since the Fifth Republic began in 1958.
The reason for his decline and fall is the progressive socialist agenda that he touted during the election campaign and that he has attempted clumsily to pursue since gaining office. The French economy has seized up in response to his anti-business rhetoric, unemployment now stands at 11 per cent, and the targeted reduction in the budget deficit to 3 per cent of gross domestic product by the end of 2013 has already been abandoned. That target will not be achieved during a progressive’s presidency.
The 75 percent top marginal income tax rate that he imposed immediately upon accessing the Elysee Palace succeeded in driving a number of top companies and a number of top celebrities into exile in other grateful European Union countries. The increased tax rate failed to generate any net revenue as tax avoidance and tax exile escalated in response to what is widely considered to be government theft.
In December 2012, France’s constitutional council provided Francois Hollande with a second chance when it ruled that the 75 per cent tax rate was unconstitutional and noted that no individual tax should exceed 66.6 per cent. Alas! progressives are not to be deterred by such rulings. Caught between political betrayal and folly, Mr. Hollande naturally chose folly.
On March 28, 2013, Hollande announced that the 75 per cent tax rate would still be imposed on incomes in excess of E1 million, but that they would be paid for by firms rather than their employees. Clearly this stupid man has no understanding of the nature of tax incidence, in particular of the conditions required for an income tax increase imposed on an employer not to be passed on in a salary reduction to an employee.
Why are progressives always so ignorant of basic economics? My former colleague Gordon Tullock explained the lacuna by noting that no good economist could ever be a progressive.