public finances, the duel of programs between Macron and Le Pen

► Marine Le Pen, a program with little credible costs

Marine Le Pen has lent itself to the exercise of the budgetary cost of its program. Between underestimated spending and overrated revenues, observers question the credibility of the advanced figures.

As a pledge of budgetary seriousness, Marine Le Pen has lent itself, like most of the candidates, to the exercise of the cost of its proposals. On 23 March he presents, with some supporting graphics, the outline of a program financially balanced.

→ THE FACTS. 2022 presidential elections: 27.84% for Macron, 23.15% for Le Pen … The final results of the 1st round

“But unlike 2012 or 2017, when she got bogged down in figures she didn’t control, this time she was content to give great financial balances, allowing her to provide a quantified framework for her company project”, observes Gilles Ivaldi, CNRS researcher at Cevipof. For greater clarity and simplification, the number of measures has also been halved, to 22 proposals.

68.3 billion spent

In total, 68.3 billion euros are estimated, divided between tax cuts (in particular 10 billion from the abolition of the property tax for companies) and new expenses, most of which is aimed at purchasing power. The RN therefore envisages a reduction of 12 billion in VAT on energy products; 8.5 billion to cancel the increase in TICPE (whose carbon component was frozen after the yellow vests), or even 4 billion to increase teachers’ salaries.

→ EXPLANATION. Presidential 2022: what is the CNCCEP, the body that identifies Marine Le Pen’s profession of faith?

As for the expenses for pensioners (systematic indexation to inflation and revaluation of small pensions; return to 60 years for people who have contributed for over forty years), they should cost almost 21 billion euros a year in a whole year . .

To finance her project, Marine Le Pen ensures that these expenses are accompanied by exactly equivalent income or savings. At the heart of its system, social aid for foreigners will be abolished for those who cannot justify five years of activity in France. A measure “National preference”, which according to it should save the state 16 billion euros a year. Five billion euros of savings are also expected from the reduction of France’s contribution to the European Union budget and 8 billion euros could be saved from the reform of state agencies. In terms of new revenue, the fight against tax and social fraud is expected to lead to € 15 billion. What, assures Marine Le Pen, to reduce the public debt.

Credibility that leaves something to be desired

Except that, in the opinion of many observers, the credibility of this figure leaves something to be desired. According to the Institut Montaigne, the expenses of the RN would amount to 120 billion euros and revenues to 18, that is to say a budget deficit of more than 100 billion per year. “It’s simple, the expenses are all underestimated and the revenues are overestimated. Furthermore, we have not counted measures contrary to the Constitution or European law, such as the reduction of the contribution to the EU budget “, explains Victor Poirier, director of publications of the Institut Montaigne. In detail, the think tank estimates for example that the reduction of social benefits for foreigners could not lead to more than 6.9 billion per year, against the 18 billion quantified by the candidate.

More generally, the impact of the far-right candidate’s program on growth and therefore, ultimately, on state resources worries economic actors. “Marine Le Pen’s economic program would lead the country to lag behind its neighbors and put it on the margins of the European Union”, so observes the Medef. For the governor of the Banque de France, François Villeroy de Galhau, the mere restoration of certain borders within the single market would mean “A much stronger shock” that most of the trade with Russia has stopped.

► Emmanuel Macron, serious budget signals to be confirmed

Emmanuel Macron’s program is expected to widen the public deficit, according to experts, while sending signals of severe budgeting.

If re-elected, will Emmanuel Macron return to some form of budgetary seriousness? The “whatever the cost” of the health crisis has shattered the 2017 ambition to bring the public deficit below 3%. And the final measures announced in recent weeks, such as the thawing of the benchmark for civil servants or the increase in the defense budget (3 billion more every year since 2023), cast doubt …

If we stick to his programmatic document, Emmanuel Macron assures in any case that he does not want to create any additional deficit since he proposes, in the face of his 50 billion euros of new spending and tax cuts, 50 billion in revenues or savings.

50-50

On the expenditure side, € 12 billion will go to education, € 10 billion to ecological transition, € 8 billion to health care, in particular to retirement homes, and € 5 billion to the family-early childhood. The 15 billion euro of tax breaks will be shared equally between companies (removal of the CVAE value added contribution) and families (removal of the audiovisual fee and inheritance reform).

On the other hand, 50 billion euros of savings will be divided between the pension reform (9 billion euros), that of unemployment insurance linked to earnings linked to the goal of full employment (6 billion euros), 15 billion euros made possible in particular by the fight against tax and social fraud and finally by the 20 billion euros deriving from a modernization and rationalization of the state and the efforts of local authorities.

Optimistic growth forecasts

The latter item of 20 billion euros “remains to be documented”, analyzes Éric Heyer, at the OFCE. Like others: “What, for example, do the 6 billion euros in revenues linked to full employment cover? “, he asks. Not to mention the growth forecasts considered very optimistic with an average annual rate of 1.8% on average over the five-year period.

→ ANALYSIS. 2022 presidential elections: a pension reform, for what?

What about indexation of pensions to inflation, such as extending the energy tariff shield? “We did not include it in Emmanuel Macron’s election promises because these decisions had already been made before the elections. The indexation of pensions to inflation, which is in the Marine Le Pen program, was not even considered, as it corresponds to current legislation “, explains Victor Poirier, of the Institut Montaigne, who deciphered the program of each candidate.

No trajectory for public debt

However, according to his calculations, “Emmanuel Macron’s expected earnings are overestimated and expenses slightly underestimated. The outgoing president’s program is therefore not neutral: without further saving measures, it should widen the deficit by 45 billion euros a year, to reach 5.1% of GDP in 2027, against the promised 3%. “ Finally, we will also have to take into account any changes (for his pension reform, the outgoing president is now citing a retirement age of 64, and no longer 65).

However, Éric Heyer believes that the signs of serious budgeting are more in Emmanuel Macron’s camp, because the gap between his figures and reality is smaller. “He announces reforms, such as pensions, which bring quick financial gains and which appeal to Brussels. Thus it shows its willingness to work with its European partners, when Marine Le Pen proposes to reduce the French contribution to the EU budget. “

But neither of the two finalists proposes a trajectory of public debt reduction (113% of GDP at the end of 2021), which is no longer at the forefront of candidates’ concerns, unlike in past elections. “In this time of Covid and war in UkraineVictor Poirier analysis, the question of purchasing power took first place. “

→ FIND the results of the 1st round of the 2022 presidential elections, municipality by municipality, and those of the second round on Sunday 24 April at 20:00.

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