The clock is ticking for France's incumbent President Nicolas Sarkozy. He only has about three months left to impress his people until they cast their votes for the next presidential elections. Some naysayers think that this is a pretty tough feat to accomplish especially since France lost its pristine AAA rating from S&P under his watch.
Wasting no time, Monsieur Sarkozy took center stage earlier this week and presented his plans on how to get the euro zone's second largest economy back on top.
With the number of jobless individuals reaching its highest level since 1999 at 2.87 million in December of 2011, the president promised that tackling unemployment will be his utmost priority.
He's planning to set aside 430 million EUR on programs that would generate jobs and stimulate growth. Some of his ideas include giving aid to those who are required to take unpaid leaves, funding training for the jobless, and giving incentives to those who hire young people.
The bulk of his plan would be to lower the amount that companies give to social security. To compensate, the government will charge higher sales taxes and convince workers that pay cuts would be necessary for job security.
If you're unimpressed by Sarkozy's plan, don't worry, you are not the only one. A few naysayers question if these plans could be implemented before the elections and if they would even have the tiniest impact on employment.
On the other hand, the contender Francois Hollande's ultimate goal is to cut France's deficit to 3% by 2013 from its current level of 7%, and eventually eliminate it by 2017. Now, a few market geeks did the math and estimated that for his plan to be realized, he would need to come up with 29 billion EUR.
Where will he get the money, you ask?
According to the main man of the Socialist party, "If there are sacrifices to be made, and there will be, then it will be for the wealthiest to make them." Hollande is looking to increase levies on banks, reduce tax breaks for big companies, and step up taxes for 'em high-rollers who get paid the big bucks.
On top of that, he plans to set aside 20 billion EUR to hire 60,000 teachers, generate thousands of jobs, and provide aid for small businesses.
It might also tickle the average Frenchman's fancy to know that once elected into office, Hollande plans to restore the pension age back to 60 after Sarkozy upped it to 62.
However, before you go loco for Hollande, you should know that as awesome as his plans may sound, the man has no government experience. Yikes! I don't know about you, but someone who doesn't have enough experience might find it a tad too overwhelming to lead the euro zone's second largest economy.
Nonetheless, recent polls show that he has gained the upper hand against Sarkozy. But some political gurus say that his lead in the polls may only be because the French people are still upset with Sarkozy after the S&P credit downgrade.
So let's cut Monsieur Nicolas some slack. He's scheduled to follow up on his plans and announce more details this weekend. Maybe he still has a few tricks up his sleeve to impress us.