Give a little, admit a few errors of tone, but maintain a policy of imposing austerity to make France “lean and mean” — that was the essence of French President Emmanuel Macron’s discourse to a country in turmoil on Dec. 10.
France has gone through a month of intense political struggle against the very essence of Macron’s policies. These have been challenged by hundreds of thousands of people all throughout the country. They have come out into the streets to confront the cops in thousands of demonstrations. They have turned their anger into rage.
The Yellow Vests leading the protests are demanding a real increase in their income. Macron’s concession is hardly that. The crumbs offered are only an increase of 100 euros (around $115) in the monthly minimum wage (currently just below 1,500 euros) beginning in January; not taxing overtime pay and year-end bonuses; and excusing households with an income of less than 2,000 euros (around $2,270) a month from paying a hike in social security taxes.
Clearly, Macron is going to keep the huge tax cuts for the rich, worth billions of euros to the ruling class. He’s going to try to keep his austerity program in place, squeezing money out of the poor and working class — the same program that roused the rage of the Yellow Vests in the first place.