by Mario Pomini*
The first financial of a new government is particularly important because it indicates the direction of progress and future intentions. The Premier Giorgia Meloni he stated that his finance is driven by two fundamental values: economic growth and social justice. That of economic growth it is a goal always announced in every budget, and by every government, and therefore it is almost a rhetorical tinsel. To tell the truth, major interventions to increase the productivity of the Italian economic system in this budget they are not seen, apart from energy discounts. Indeed, it goes in the opposite direction given the chaotic stop the tax superbonus protagonist, in a big way, of the recent Italian economic recovery.
Meanwhile, forecasts predict growth of the Italian economy for next year of 0.3% against 3% and more in the Draghi era, the golden age now. So sustained economic growth for 2023 is an illusiongood only for Rai conferences.
More interesting, however, is the issue of social justice, cornerstone of the vision of the MSI right from which the Premier descends. Here the government’s economic policy can make a difference to the fate of millions of people. To understand if we are inside the demagogic vortex that is still affected by the aftermath of the electoral campaign, or if there is substance, let’s see the main points of the new budget for 2023.
Pensions. Meanwhile, in the introduction, we observe that the much-heralded there is no increase in minimum pensions to one thousand euros. Nor could there be, with all due respect to the right that has been proposing it for at least a decade. On the contrary, we are going in the opposite direction and a cut in the adjustment of pensions has already been announced, those above two thousand euros gross, which the Premier evidently considers the wealth threshold for retirees. It is not clear what kind of social justice there is to violate, essentially by modifying it, a State law which provided for the automatic adjustment of pensions.
But even more absurd is the final outcome of these savings. More unique than rare case, the cuts to elderly pensioners will finance the early entry into Salvini’s retirement paradise of a certain share of early retirees. An additional threshold has been created to retire, odds 103which adds to the confusion of the system even more.
Of course, this touch-up prepares the great pension reform by Salvini, which, we bet, there will never be but it is good for bringing votes in any electoral campaign. Pitting retirees against retirees is in fact an insult to the idea of true social justice.
Basic income And flat tax. Still on the side of social equity, a first attack on basic income must be considered, with its expected downsizing. The promised abolition will take place next year; today it can not be done for manifest cowardice or lack of courage. Indeed, it takes strong nerves to take 500 euros a month from two million people.
Why this political fury against a measure which, despite its limitations, has brought economic relief to hundreds of thousands of families? Reasons of moral integrity as his detractors would like? Not really. The money thus saved now (1.5 billion) will be used to finance not one but three flat taxes. This time it won’t be just the people who benefit from it wealthy professionals with high incomes, but also others autonomous for the incremental income of the three-year period ei employees of the private sector with a tax reduction of the productivity bonus.
Naturally from this great fiscal bounty civil servants are excluded. For them, no tax haven, neither small nor large, they don’t deserve it. So money is taken away from the recipients of the citizen’s income to give it to those who have more than discrete, if not high, incomes. Meloni plays the role of one Reverse Robin Hood who takes away from the poor to give to the rich. But the right, moreover, has always loved by vocation to reduce taxes for the rich. Abolishing it, as planned for 2024, is not an act of social justice, rather an act of cruel social arrogance fraught with consequences, perhaps even desired by an increasingly cynical political class.
Tax wedge. But at least couldn’t the reduction of the tax wedge fall under the miserable category of tax equity measures of the 2023 budget? Unfortunately not. First, because it is only a temporary reduction. Secondly, because even in Meloniland there are no free meals. Who will pay these few euros per month, always useful, which will become spendable income? The answer is simple: the worker himself if they will not be useful to accrue the pension, or the community otherwise through a new debt of INPS. So a deception for the workers or a levy from the young; other than social justice!
Public sector and more. Then there is a great absentee: the public sector. Draghi’s finance company had found one billion euros to meet the new needs of the public sector. There is still pandemic, there was Dad, there is a need to make public administration more efficient by investing in people. Then there are the contracts which, approved very late, they are already expired. For all of this there are no resources in Meloni’s book. If we then widen the field and consider in social justice also theenvironment or public ethics, here too the budget is bankruptcy. The government has moved the tax on there plastic and the usual fiscal truce appears, in the always current form of the I forgive for the evaders. Honest citizens are warned that this government will give large discounts to the dishonest. We have to take advantage of it somehow.
Ultimately, economic growth in the first Meloni-branded financial one he is alone imagined and of the social justice praised at the press conference, the barely watchful eye sees nothing at all. The budget for 2023 is rather modest in its general structure, it exacerbates social tensions by creating new and unfair divisions; it turns out in the end a chaotic collage of all the largely downsized electoral proposals of the various souls of the Italian right. Each fraction takes home its share of the public budget, which has now become a post-election ATM, and the problems of the economy, as well as of Italian society, are further exacerbated or swept under the rug.
In short, no major reforms in sight, at least for now, but only small patronage columns. A political finance company, as Meloni exalts? Sure, but of the worst kind of politics, partition and allotment machine, without a vision. That this law, then, creates some social justice, only the Premier and her interested flatterers of her can believe it. In reality they bury it under an indecent dose of demagogywhich is good for winning elections but perhaps less good for governing.
*Prof. associate of Political Economy, Padua