France's Hollande: All right, new plan on that 75 percent millionaire tax

Socialist French President Francois Hollande is only ten months into his first term, and things are just not going according to plan for the guy. His anti-austerity campaign promises to jumpstart the French economy are not seeing any fruition; he’s reneging on his eurozone pledge to bring France’s deficit under three percent of GDP; unemployment is still above ten percent; and his job approval ratings are the lowest for a French president in thirty years.

Last week, the government finally decided to scrap one of his key campaign promises to levy a whopping 75 percent tax on anyone making over a million euros a year — and Hollande is now flailing wildly for something, anything he can do to look like he’s proactively punishing the upper classes and redistributing wealth. This is what it looks like when Socialists start to get desperate:

François Hollande has vowed to force companies to pay a 75 per cent levy on salaries over a million euros in a face-saving bid after his plan to tax individuals was slapped down as confiscatory by the country’s constitutional court.

The Socialist French president made the surprise announcement in a “moment of truth” prime time TV interview he hopes will reverse record low approval ratings for a French head of state. …

In what French commentators dubbed the Socialist leader’s “oral re-sit” after ten months of communication blunders, Mr Hollande spent 45 minutes trying to convince a disillusioned nation that he is not a “bad president”. …

Mr Hollande conceded that had not anticipated that the economic crisis would “last as long as it has, longer than expected”, but said he had implemented “all the tools necessary” to get through it.

The 75 percent payroll tax would apply to million-plus euro salaries for just two years, but pardonne moi — I hardly think even just a temporary addition to the exorbitantly high taxes companies already pay is going to assuage the riled business community.

Le sigh. I’m not really sure what France was expecting the man to accomplish. He’s a Socialist (although, apparently, some of the country’s hardcore leftists are upset that he hasn’t been socialistic enough. Shaking my head.) Socialism is pretty reliably antithetical to robust economic growth, no?

And make no mistake in thinking that Hollande’s proposal has anything to do with a sincere effort to raise revenue to help balance the country’s fiscal problems — he’s been pretty open about his belief in soaking the rich as a moral imperative.