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Emmanuel Macron Faces Backlash Over Pension Index Proposal

On March 6, 2024, his 46th anniversary, Thomas Cazenave, the Minister in charge of Public Accounts, is not going to forget him. “For his birthday, he received lightning from Jupiter, Emmanuel Macron did not miss it”, saying that a member of the government is present like him at the traditional Council of Ministers.

This early Macronist’s mistake? After a proposal, to limit spending, to be a sub-index of pensions in the 2025 budget in the future. “Stop bringing out measures that haven’t even been announced, unless you definitely want to lose the elections!” » Emmanuel Macron then loses his temper. Since then, no one in the president’s entourage has wanted to put this option back on the table.

Pension index

However, this support for the elderly depends heavily on the accounts: “The 5.3% index of pensions is the 15 billion euros needed from the 2023 budget”, celebrating François Ecalle, who was a consultant to the Court of Auditors. And the founder of the Fipeco site added: “It is purely a political choice, as the standard of living of retirees is, on average, higher than that of workers. »

Emmanuel Macron has always looked after these voters who, so far, have been good to him. But today he is moving away. And this distance is largely linked to the billions of euros that have been spent: a debt that explodes to more than 110% of GDP, a deficit at 5.5% of GDP, underfunded public services… are elements that older people are aware of. To the extent that the myth of Emmanuel Macron “Financial Mozart” no longer renders them incompetent. And the credit of the old Bercy treasurer’s budget could be damaged, in the coming days, by the decision of the rating agencies. Holy bread for the right, which sees it as a real reason to justify its threat of government censorship.

Especially since another issue is already keeping seniors away from the president: questioning special unemployment insurance rules for seniors. Last November, Bruno Le Maire, the Minister for the Economy, was the first to speak out in favor of reducing the period of unemployment benefits for those over 55 to parallel to the work of other unemployment claimants. “But his opinion is not getting through, including to our voters, note minister. We all know someone aged 57 or 58 who has been made unemployed and is struggling, with good intentions, to find work. »

Not to mention that this proposal divides the majority. “Playing only on the levers of unemployment insurance will be economically ineffective, risk creating poverty traps and lead to votes for the National Rally,” feared by Macronist MP Astrid Panosyan-Bouvet. And this, especially since the RN is already mocking it with the RN mocking the special loyalty allowance (ASS), which is mainly a benefit for those over 50.

Finally, the government’s offensive on the reserves of the private supplementary scheme Agirc-Arrco is finally worrying retirees. To fill the deficit in the general system, the executive would see themselves drawing on part of the 78 billion euros. A real opportunity for employees and pensioners of these funds. “And the certainty of seeing their standard of living would be reduced, since 1 billion euros transferred to the general system would be equivalent to a 1% reduction in the revaluation of private pensions”, recalls Didier Weckner, vice president of Agirc-Arrco.

Remember the increase in the CSG for retirees

Will Emmanuel Macron change gears? Perhaps, because the budget situation is tight, to argue with members of his guards. The fact remains that a scaly cat is afraid of cold water. The head of state is still marked by the anger caused by the increase in the CSG for retirees at the start of his first five-year term. In 2019, he had, through these means, wanted to finance the reduction in employee contributions … before he changed his mind.

However, economists are campaigning to rebalance the situation between generations. Like Gilbert Cet, president of the Retirement Guidance Council: “In this period of fiscal consolidation, scrapping the 10% tax cut for retirees or increasing the CSG for the wealthiest pensioners are approaches that should not be rejected. » Avenues that Emmanuel Macron could explore… as far as possible.