Budget: The ax of “49.3” is imminent
End of tension in sight. The government is expected to hit the “49.3” button on Wednesday to wind down bitter debates over the first part of the 2023 budget that have tested the presidential camp and frustrated the opposition. After Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne accused the latter of “blockade” on Tuesday, she was set to resort to it by going to the assembly in the afternoon, the scene of serial defeats for the Macronists in votes on budget changes. This triggering on Wednesday is “probable”, said government spokesman Olivier Véran on Tuesday, while after eight days of sometimes heated debates the parliamentarians no longer had any doubts about the timing.
Tension flared up again in the assembly at the end of Tuesday night’s session, when Nupes MPs criticized the presidential camp for “pretending” to debate “while waiting for 49.3” the next day. “It’s still a problem that we learn from the press that the debates end tomorrow,” Eric Coquerel introduced the Insoumis, while Communist MP Nicolas Sansu asked for additional sessions.
Another 2,000 changes
Nearly 2,000 amendments remain to be considered and certain thorny issues such as the taxation of “superprofits” will not have been discussed in the Chamber if the verdict of Wednesday’s debates is upheld. The opposition points to a contradiction with the desire for “dialogue” expressed by the executive, which for its part rejects every “passage in force” and finds itself constrained by the only relative majority it has in the Chamber. Article 49.3 of the Constitution allows him to pass a text without a vote unless a motion of no confidence is passed.
The MEPs from the Nupes (LFI, PS, EELV, PCF) and the RN are ready to draw their lots once the procedure is activated. But they are unlikely to overthrow the government as the RN has “a priori” ruled out voting for any text of the Nupes and vice versa.
The first reading of the revenue part of the draft budget will be completed, but what changes will the government make to the text submitted to 49.3? Knowing that he can keep or dismiss as he pleases those who have been elected or rejected, and even those who have not yet been tested. Elisabeth Borne stressed to the Renaissance MPs on Tuesday that there had been “interesting suggestions that will be taken into account in the final text”.
Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire was careful not to arouse too many hopes: “It will be without me” if the final text were to derail public finances, he opened Monday at a meeting in Matignon, according to an attendee.
“No” for super dividends or the return of the “exit tax”
According to a majority government, the executive has given the green light to around a hundred amendments, mostly from the majority and some from the opposition, at a cost of between 700 and 800 million euros. These include strengthening the childcare tax credit, tax cuts for smaller businesses and even removing a tax benefit for private jets.
But there is no question of including the MoDem amendment taxing “super dividends”, which was adopted with the support of the Left, the RN and even some twenty Renaissance MPs. Also, the PS adopted at the meeting to establish a tax credit for the balance to be paid by all nursing home residents is considered too expensive. It is also a no to the reintroduction of the “exit tax” endorsed by an opposition coalition.
According to a member of the Nupes, the government had “taken the bet from totally hysterical oppositions in the session, which would have justified triggering 49.3 from the start, but that bet there, they lost it”. For his part, a majority leader admits that “if it had not been for the fuel crisis”, he “would have continued to announce that it was necessary to activate the 49.3 earlier”, undoubtedly the first in a long line leading up to the final passage of the Budget mid-December.
The exchange must be continued on Wednesday at 3 p.m. with a debate on the “revenue deduction in favor of the EU”. The intervention of the head of government, who has to be in the Senate at the beginning of the afternoon, could only take place afterwards.
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