French retirees protest Macron budget

President E. Macron

Pensioners have now joined the protests against President Emmanuel Macron’s new budget.

According to TheLocal.fr, approximately eight million pensioners making at least €1,200 a month will have to increase their contributions to social security.

One of Macron’s goals is to bring France’s debt more in line with its GDP. His budget includes an increase in social security taxes to achieve this goal. The increase is expected to raise €20 billion.

Nine unions organized protests on Thursday, saying the proposed increases will cost elderly French citizens hundreds of euros a year.

Macron has claimed his proposed increases only affect France’s wealthiest pensioners. However, the protestors said they did not have a lot of extra money lying around.

Daniel Bonfils, a pensioner who also cares for his handicapped son, said, "We're not all well off... and we're being hit up again.” Bonfils lives on less than €1,500 a month.

Money from the tax cut has been earmarked for funding reductions in the unemployment and health care contributions made by private workers. Another goal of Macron’s budget is to make France friendlier to investors and private enterprises.

The budget includes €7 billion in tax cuts for both businesses and individuals. Pensioners are expected to benefit from some of the tax cuts.

While members of unions and the French left argue Macron’s budget is a windfall for the wealthy, Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire said he believes all sectors of French society will benefit.

The pensioner protests follow on the heels of massive protests over Macron’s labor code reforms. Those reforms were designed to tackle the problem of unemployment in France. France’s unemployment rate is 9.5 percent.

The heads of the French regional governments also joined the protests after learning that they would see a €450 million reduction in funding. They walked out of a meeting with Prime Minister Edouard Philippe.

If Macron’s domestic reforms are successful, he will have an easier time convincing other EU leaders to adopt his proposed Europe-wide labor and economic reforms.

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