Thrifty Frenchmen, famed for keeping their personal budgets meticulously balanced, have lately been angered, then amused by the French Treasury's "budget fantasies." Just how fantastic French finance has become was pictured in Paris' smart illustrated weekly Vu, copies of which reached the U. S. last week. Successively, as Vu points out, the French deficit for 1933 was estimated in November 1932 by Minister of the Budget Maurice Palmade at 12,100,000,000 francs; on Dec. 26 by Chairman of the Chamber's Finance Committee Lucien Lamoureux at 16,550,000,000 and on Jan. 26 by Finance Minister Henri Cheron at 7,000,000,000 francs.
Thus, by their learned computations, eminent French statesmen turned the estimated deficit for 1933 into something like a toy balloon alternately blown up and permitted to deflate. During this process two French Cabinetsthose of Edouard Herriot and Joseph Paul Boncourre- soundingly fell (TIME, Dec. 26 & Feb. 6). Last week blustering, dynamic Premier Edouard Daiadier won vote after vote on the budget in the Chamber and Senate. His estimates reduced the expected deficit to a mere 5,566,000,000 francs.
The budget battling last week was grim, real, exciting. Premier Daiadier hammered the reluctant Senate into completely reversing itself on the issue of cutting half a billion francs ($19,800,000) from expenditures for national defense. Fortnight ago crusty Senate oldsters rejected this cut 168 to 129. Last week they passed it 180 to 118amid furious gesticulations and sighs of despair from the French General Staff.
Meanwhile M. Daladier, himself a Radical Socialist, was harrying the Socialist Party with threats that President Albert Lebrun would dissolve the Chamber and order an election unless the Socialists, by withdrawing their opposition, made it possible for his Cabinet to raise the general French income tax rate 10% and cut the salaries of civil servants receiving more than $470 yearly. Meeting in caucus, the Socialist Party split, the majority faction bolting away from Party Leader Leon Blum. Famed as a Cabinet killer, M. Blum overthrew Premiers Herriot and Paul-Boncour. He favored overthrowing Premier Daladier last week. Paris grew feverish with excitement as midnight neared. The last day for voting credits to tide the Cabinet through March had come. Before midnight Premier Daladier knew that he must either win a vote of confidence or fall.
To put off midnight as long as possible, M. Daladier had the Chamber clock stopped, battled through a furious debate which lasted until 3 a. m. when his Cabinet won 334 to 250after which the clock was restarted.
Since 104 Socialists voted for the Cabinet and only 20 voted against it with Cabinet Killer Blum, he perforce resigned as leader of his party.
Proud as Punch of his double victory, Premier Daladier announced that he would go to London March 15 "to discuss war debts and other major international problems" with Prime Minister James Ramsay MacDonald. After that it will be necessary to make an end of hand-to-mouth financing and really balance France's budget.