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Politics

ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: La Verité sur le Projet Fical de Jea-Luc Mélenchon

by Sébastien Cépel and Julia Hamlaoui

The Truth Concerning the Fiscal Program of Jean-Luc Mélenchon

Translated Saturday 15 April 2017, by Henry Crapo

The opponents of the candidate do not shrink from manipulation to caricature the tax program of Jean-Luc Mélenchon, considered by the right-wing press to be an unbearable financial ``battering’’. In reality, the project he is defending aims above all to distribute the tax burden more fairly.

Philippe Huguen / AFP Photo

For a week now, the candidate of France Insoumise, backed by the PCF, by the Parti de Gauche and Ensemble!, is spared no attack. And no manipulation is too exaggerated. For example, the program ``The Future in Common’’ clearly plans for an increase in taxes of 120 billion euros, but spread out over a period of five years, a fact that his detractors prefer to forget, thus 24 billion per year. Same thing for investments and public expenses: the ``270 billion’’ (265, really, according to the document framing the program) represents 53 billion per year over five years, made up of 20 billion in investments, that being the equivalent of what Cice [1] spent in sheer loss every year since 2013, under François Hollande, and 33 billion for new expenses, thus less than the cost of the ``pact for stability’’ [2] for 2017 (41 billion!).

With a stimulus package weighing 2.4% of GDP in total, it is far from the ``massive collectivization of the economy’’ promised by Le Figaro, with great reinforcements of opinions of "experts" all gravitating in circles close to the Medef, which the newspaper does not acknowledge. Ultimately, the proponents of a program of the "communist revolutionary", to paraphrase the accusation of Emmanuel Macron, could even reproach Jean-Luc Mélenchon for a certain shyness ... The candidate himself acknowledged on the sidelines of his five-hour program to present the fiscal program: ``Our project is not Marxist, it is Keynesian. ’’

Less taxes on income of under 4000 euros per month

As for the ``fiscal battering’’, this is far from the intentions of the candidate. ``They are in the process of over-taxing the middle class, and they come to reproach me concerning taxes,’’ replies Jean-Luc Mélenchon, with irony, at the meeting in Lille on Wednesday. His program consists of ``recentering the burden of taxation’’. Thus ``Anyone who earns less than 4000 euros per month will pay less thax than they do today,’’ he affirmed. `` The idea is that everyone will pay in function of his capacity to contribute’’, explains Marie Agam, ex-inspector of revenues and co-editor of the program of France Insoumise for fiscal measures. ``We want to increase the number of brackets for the income tax, that is to loosen the vise that is crushing the middle classes today. In the half of the households that pay taxes today, the middle classes pay three-quarters of the total. The others who should contribute more pay amounts that are totally insufficient.’’

The problem is with an income tax that has become unjust, due to reforms that have weakened its progressive nature. ``We have decreased the number of income brackets. If you reduce this number, who carries the burden on their backs? Those who are in the middle’’, as Jean-Luc Mélenchon indicated in Lille. ``We make another proposition: we will create 14 brackets, and on top, they will pay a lot. Why? Because they have a lot.’’ Even if this displeases the editorialists who wave their scary images, this measure is not new. It was already present in the program ``Humans first’’ (l’Humain d’abord), the program of the Front de Gauche in 2012. ``We propose to stretch the tax rates from 0 to 90 percent, in 14 brackets,’’ confirms Marie Agam. ``This will make it possible to have lower thresholds than the 5 brackets today, and to remove from the income tax the loop-holes (niches) with which it is encumbered. The Court of Auditors records 451. They represent 60 to 70 billion euros. We are to recover everything that has not been imposed for decades.’’

A tax concentrated on the top brackets

According to this responsible person in France Insoumise, the process of ``recuperation’’ will be concentrated on the very top brackets. ``Between 4000 and 6000 euros per month, the taxes will remain stable. At above 6000 euros, there will be a progressive augmentation up until the 14th bracket. For this top bracket, it concerns revenues of more than 300,000 euros per year.’’ It’s a measure that will concern 0.05 percent of tax-payers. ``They are crying because I say that in the final bracket we will take 90%,’’ replies Jean-Luc Mélenchon to those who despise him. ``It’s a story like that for 0.05 % of taxpayers, but there’s no tear in their eye when 565 people die at their workplace.’’

Another point in the program concerning which his adversaries are silent: the decrease in the sales tax, which was proposed by the Front de Gauche already in 2012 and is shared with the program ``France in Common’’ of the PCF. On an opposite tack from that of his opponents, who intend to increase the sales tax, the candidate wants to lighten the burden of this tax, a tax exemplary in its injustice, paid at the same rate by rich and poor, and which weighs most heavily on the most modest budgets. ``We will lower the sales tax on products of first necessity, we will reconsider the recent increases (in various rates), and we will create a ``big luxury’’ sales tax to compensate for the reductions,’’ Marie Agam adds specifics. As for the tax on business, there again the program of the candidate is far from that caricatured by his opponents. ``We will enlarge the plate to make it more equitable, we will eliminate the Cice, and decrease the tax on businesses. There will thus be a renewal of energy for small and medium-sized businesses, because they will pay less than the big groups, whereas today the situation is just the opposite,’’ explains Marie Agam.

The French version of this article is in two parts: introduction and analysis

The logo of the present government program, the ``Pact for Stability"

[1The ``Crédit d’impôt pour la compétitivité et l’emploi’’ or credit for competitivity and employment, which meant a decrease in contributions by companies to social security for their workers.

[2The pact for stability is perhaps best understood from a glance at their publicity logo for the pact: an arrow traveling around a circle, its principal axes marked ``(N) More competitive enterprises, (E) Job creation, [S] Increased buying power, [W Economic increase relaunched’’, and having completed its circle, a comforting slogan appears at the center: ``Aid, in prority, to those with the most modest income".


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