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France's Hollande Proposes New Progressive Tax on the Rich

As austerity reigns, French president tries to renew push for wealthy to pay fair share

- Jacob Chamberlain, staff writer

French President Francois Hollande introduced a new tax on the wealthy this week in which companies would have to pay 75 percent tax on salaries exceeding one million euros—a bid to make good on a thus far failed campaign promise to more aggressively tax the rich.

President François Hollande (Photo: Reuters) Hollande said in a televised TV interview on Thursday night that he hoped the new tax proposal, which now faces approval in parliament, would help push back against the failed austerity measures that have kept much of Europe in recession in recent years.

A similar attempt by Hollande to tax the rich failed in France's constitutional court last year, in which individuals who earned more than 1 million euros (($1.28 million) would have faced a tax rate of 75%. The proposal garnered large public support during Hollande's presidential campaign.

"What's my idea? It's not to punish," Hollande said. "When so much is asked of employees, can those who are the highest-paid not make this effort for two years?"

The tax would be used as a temporary measure and would expire at the two year mark.

However, Hollande has also introduced large spending cuts within the government including up to 5 billion euros in cuts at government ministries next year on top of 10 billion already proposed and in a addition to a "pension overhaul" that would force France's working class to remain in the labor force later in life.

Meanwhile, Agency France-Presse reports that the defense budget has remained unscathed by cuts as French forces continue a costly and deadly intervention in Mali.

"We will spend exactly the same amount in 2014 as we did in 2013," Hollande said of the military budget.

With a twenty-five percent approval rating, Hollande has continuously failed to satisfy the country's leftist base and members of his Socialist Party, as they say he has not done enough to tackle inequality in the country, Associated Press reports

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