I periodically get emails asking whether I support a presidential candidate. Most of these messages complain that I’ve been critical of Romney, Santorum, Gingrich, etc, and inquire if there’s anybody I like.
As a general rule, I don’t respond because I work at a think tank and we’re not supposed to be involved in partisan politics according to IRS rules.
But I found a loophole, so the time has come for me to announce my preferred candidate for the 2012 presidential election. And I’m making this much-anticipated announcement even though I won’t be casting a vote.
I want people to select François Hollande.
Who is Mr. Hollande, you ask? Well, actually, he’s Monsieur Hollande, because I’m making an endorsement in France’s presidential election.
For those of you who follow such matters, you may be wondering why I would prefer Monsieur Hollande. After all, he is the candidate of the French Socialist Party.
Read these excerpts from today’s Wall Street Journal editorial page and you’ll begin to understand why. We’ll start with a quick glimpse at France’s dire situation.
The French head to the polls Sunday for the first round of Presidential voting, but you wouldn’t know the candidates were competing in Europe’s most important election since the start of its economic crisis. …the contenders for the Elysée Palace—including Mr. Sarkozy—are in one way or another running on fairy tales. …The French economy is in a severe, if not yet acute, crisis. …French growth has been stagnant for five years. Unit labor costs have risen steadily for more than a decade, and high unemployment has become chronic. A quarter of French youth are jobless.
Here’s what we know about the supposedly right-of-center incumbent, Nicolas Sarkozy.
Nicolas Sarkozy, the center-right incumbent, is proposing to shrink the budget deficit by raising taxes in the name of “solidarity.” On top of his already-passed hikes in corporate and personal income taxes, and his 4% surcharge on high incomes, Mr. Sarkozy also promises an “exit tax” on French citizens who move abroad, presumably to make up for the revenue that goes missing when all those new levies impel high earners to leave the country. …Mr. Sarkozy proposes reducing payroll charges paid by employers but would make up for it by increasing VAT and taxes on investment income. This assumes there will be investment income left in France once Mr. Sarkozy’s financial-transactions tax goes into effect in August.
So what’s the alternative? Well, there isn’t one.
The President’s Socialist rival is a throwback of a different sort. François Hollande’s campaign has adopted a fiery old-left style that most had taken for dead after the Socialists’ 2007 defeat. All of Mr. Hollande’s major economic policy plans have roots in a punitive populism that would make U.S. Congressional class warriors blush. …Mr. Hollande says he’s “not dangerous” to the wealthy—he merely wants to confiscate 75% of their income over €1 million, and 45% over €150,000. He is, however, a self-avowed “enemy” of the financial industry, and he plans to impose extra penalties on oil companies and financial firms. He’d also raise the dividends tax and impose a new, higher rate of VAT on luxury goods.
The unfortunate people of France, to be blunt, are screwed no matter which candidate prevails. Government will get bigger, taxes will climb higher, jobs will be lost, and living standards will continue to stagnate.
Given this dismal outlook, though, I’d rather have the unambiguously left-wing party come out of top.
My reasoning is simple, and I’ve even decided to create a new rule to commemorate the analysis. The “Richard Nixon Disinfectant Rule” is that it’s always better to let the left-wing party win when the supposedly right-wing party has a statist candidate.
I name this rule after Nixon for the obvious reason that he was one of the worst Presidents in American history. And I’m not even counting the Watergate scandal and subsequent resignation. I’m referring to the spending, the taxes, the regulation, and the intervention.
Sarkozy, needless to say, has shown that he’s a French version of Nixon. Or Bush.
So if the French are going to be governed by a statist, it may as well be Hollande. That way, there’s at least a slight chance that the alleged right-of-center party will come to its senses and offer voters a genuine choice in the next election.
By the way, this was my mindset as a teenager when I wanted Jimmy Carter to beat Gerald Ford. I figured that was the best way of getting Ronald Reagan.