Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Sarkozy Can Teach Obama A Thing or Two About Facing the Truth About the Need to CUT GOVERNMENT

France's Sarkozy is doing the right things to get control of runaway pensions, spending and unions - even in the face of severe protests by the French and his lowering popularity. But sometimes in life just as fathers and mothers must do the tough disciplining of their children in order that they straighten up so must a country that has run awry of their duty to govern within their mandates and means. Sarkosy deserves kudos and applause and Obama should learn a lesson in leadership - that is honest leadership.

Leadership: France's President Nicolas Sarkozy signed off on pension reform Wednesday, winning big and saving his nation's system. But the obstacles he stared down went beyond anything average politicians will tolerate.

Ever since he was elected in 2007, the conservative French president has vowed to "modernize" France's stagnant, noncompetitive, socialist economy.

So in just three years, Sarkozy extended the work week, changed laws to permit overtime, scrapped retail price controls, simplified business formation, tamed unions and yanked benefits from work-shirkers.

But his biggest victory to date was this week's reform of France's lavish pension system that was fueled by endless deficit spending.

Naturally, the usual mix of communists, union thugs, illegal immigrants, students and criminals sprang into action to protest any cuts in entitlements, rioting night after night. They did this in the hopes that Sarkozy would roll over for them — just as past French presidents, particularly Jacques Chirac, always did.

When car burnings and street blockades didn't work, they shut down transport, including even air traffic. When that failed, they shut down oil installations, bringing on fuel shortages.

And in the worst blow for a politician, Sarkozy's popularity dropped, precipitously, falling from the high 60s to the low 20s, as the public balked at the reforms he promised.

As the invective and Molotov cocktails flew, Sarkozy refused to back down. "I am fully aware that this is a difficult reform," Sarkozy said. "However, I always felt it was my duty, and the government's duty, to carry it out. With this law, our pension plan by equal division is saved."

He's right that it's not easy to tell workers anywhere that their retirement age must be raised by two years to 62 for a partial pension, or 67 for a full one if the system is to stay solvent.

But it's even harder to argue with economic numbers, which unflinchingly warned that the demographic curve in France was falling and, unless adjustments were made, the system would crash.

Sarkozy, who had held top positions in budget, economy and interior ministries, fully grasped that the situation in France was unsustainable and chose reality over the false promises of socialism.

It was leadership at its finest and a wake-up call to the U.S. that courage will be needed from our own political leaders to stop the flood tide of spending. As incoming U.S. congressional leaders confront runaway spending and the urgent tasks of entitlement reform, including Social Security, Sarkozy provides a useful lesson.

His big message: To win, it takes courage. Will Congress have it? (READ AT IBD
Sarkozy's Boldness)

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