France to Seize Pensions by Raising Retiring Age

Financial Times

Expectations are growing that France is set to remove the right to retire at 60, as it embarks on a contentious reform of its debt-laden pension system and brings public finances back into line.

Christian Estrosi, industry minister, said on Sunday the government was “leaning towards an increase in the [retirement] age” in its talks with unions and employers’ federations, despite denials from cabinet ministers over the weekend of a decision being taken.

Although there has been much speculation that France’s legal retirement age of 60 – one of the lowest in Europe – would be abandoned, Mr Estrosi’s comments on national radio are the clearest statement yet of government intentions.

His comments are likely to give ammunition to unions planning a national strike on Thursday to protest against spending cuts and pension reforms.

The government is expected to announce its planned reforms next month and expects to have a draft bill before parliament by September. Nicolas Sarkozy, president, has made pensions the last big reform of his government before the campaign for the next presidential election in 2012 gets under way.

All but one of France’s five main unions have rejected suggestions that the retirement age should be increased, favouring instead taxes to fill a deficit expected to hit €32bn this year, as much as €45bn in 2020 and possibly more than €100bn in 2050.

The government is highly sensitive to the potential of pension reform sparking widespread unrest and will be watching Thursday’s protest closely. Former prime minister Alain Juppé was eventually brought down by national protests in 1995 when he attempted to restructure one of the most generous pensions systems in Europe.

However, there are signs of opinion shifting and the government may be hoping to take the opportunity presented by the Greek crisis to convince the public of the need for reform. A survey last week showed two-thirds of those questioned believed the pension system was in danger of collapse.

A similar percentage of respondents agreed that the retirement age needed to be raised from 60 to 62.

63% Now Agree to Repeal Obama Healthcare Law

If one did not know the real numbers, this report would come as a surprise.  However, the opposition to Obamacare has been this high since before it was actually approved.

Rassmusen

Support for repeal of the new national health care plan has jumped to its highest level ever. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 63% of U.S. voters now favor repeal of the plan passed by congressional Democrats and signed into law by President Obama in March.

Prior to today, weekly polling had shown support for repeal ranging from 54% to 58%.

Currently, just 32% oppose repeal.

The new findings include 46% who Strongly Favor repeal of the health care bill and 25% who Strongly Oppose it.

While opposition to the bill has remained as consistent since its passage as it was beforehand, this marks the first time that support for repeal has climbed into the 60s. It will be interesting to see whether this marks a brief bounce or indicates a trend of growing opposition.

Thirty-three percent (33%) of voters now believe the health care plan will be good for the country, down six points from a week ago and the lowest level of confidence in the plan to date. Fifty-five percent (55%) say it will be bad for the nation. Only three percent (3%) think it will have no impact.

The Political Class continues to be a strong supporter of the plan, however. While 67% of Mainstream voters believe the plan will be bad for America, 77% of the Political Class disagree and think it be good for the country.

(Want a free daily e-mail update? If it’s in the news, it’s in our polls). Rasmussen Reports updates are also available on Twitter or Facebook.

The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on May 22-23, 2010 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

Sixty-three percent (63%) of all voters expect the health care plan to increase the federal deficit. Just 12% expect the bill to push the deficit down, while 13% say it will have no impact.

Fifty-five percent (55%) say the plan will make the quality of health care in the country worse. Twenty percent (20%) expect it to improve the quality of health care, and 18% think quality will stay about the same.

Fifty-five percent (55%) also expect the health care plan to drive up the cost of health care rather than achieve its stated goal of causing those costs to go down. Only 18% believe health care costs will indeed go down because of the plan’s passage. Another 16% expect costs to stay about the same.

Male voters remain more critical of the health care plan than female voters.

While sizable majorities of Republicans and voters not affiliated with either major party continue to favor repeal of the plan, most Democrats remain supportive.