Tuesday, November 17, 2009

La Taxe Pro's the Thing

Martine Aubry has found her issue. Mayors hate the reform of la taxe professionnelle, and she's a mayor ... so, by golly, she's going to run with this. Fillon appeared before an auditorium full of mayors today and was booed before he had a chance to say a word. Martine rushed into the breach and got herself invited onto the JT 20H with David Pujadas--and she wasn't half bad. She forcefully articulated all the mayors' complaints and said the Socialists could do this job better and impugned the motives of the Right and refused to be drawn into pettiness about Ségo's spat with Peillon--une bisbille, she said. It was well done.

Except, let's face it: la taxe pro is a bad tax. It needs to be revamped. The government has done a poor job of it so far, but it's not too late to patch things up. And this isn't the kind of issue that is going to swing a lot of votes. It doesn't really alter priorities. Eventually it will shift the source of certain revenues from one place to another and perhaps alter the destination to a limited extent as well. But all those local services will be financed somehow--or most of them. And then what? It's not a vision of the future to say that the old folks home in Bledsville really needs to be paid for somehow. And the ability to float above intraparty squabbles isn't the same as the authority to make them go away.

So I give Aubry 1 star for this performance. It's a start. But she shouldn't get too excited. There's still a long way to go.

Royal Fires Peillon

La présidente socialiste de Poitou-Charentes a annoncé, mardi soir sur Canal+, qu'elle confiait l'"animation" de son courant à Jean-Louis Bianco, Najat Belkacem et Gaëtan Gorce, après sa dispute avec Vincent Peillon, son ex-lieutenant qui dirigeait le courant "L'Espoir à gauche". (AFP)

De Gaulle Evolves

The evolution of de Gaulle's thinking on Algeria, as seen by Benjamin Stora (reviewed by Guy Konopnicki).

"Besancenot, l'idiot utile du sarkozysme", de Renaud Dély

A review here. Brent, this is a provocation to which I invite you to respond if you so desire.

Lagarde: FT's Finance Minister of the Year

See here and here. Frankly, I find this award a bit puzzling. In the interview, Lagarde herself emphasizes the effects of automatic stabilizers, for which she deserves no credit. To be sure, she also emphasizes the focus of stimulus, such as it was, on investment rather than consumption. There is some truth to this, but the actual sums invested are, I believe (in the absence of good data), relatively small, and the positive effects of such investment lie mainly in the future, whereas the award seems to be predicated on performance to date. Finally, as the interviewer notes, French GDP was less dependent on the financial sector than some other economies and took a generally more conservative approach to banking, qualities that reflect on French mores, not Lagarde's achievements.

I am not saying that anyone else in Europe deserves the award more than Lagarde does, and I suppose it had to go to someone. I do, however, find it problematic that French policy is being held up as exemplary. I await your brickbats and contradictions.

Who's Still With Her?

Le Figaro asks who's still with Ségolène and even gives her the benefit of the doubt: I would have put Pierre Bergé in the "abandoned" camp, particularly after his remarks of this past weekend.

Drop Those Trousers, Ladies

Forget the burqa: it's illegal for women to wear trousers in Paris. Such a complex thing, French identity. (h/t Dick Sindall)