The traffic light coalition is arguing about additional relief for citizens in view of the sharp rise in energy and food prices. Vice-Chancellor Robert Habeck (Greens) announced “soon to have answers” from the federal government.
“The high inflation, driven by fossil energies, is weighing heavily on the country,” said the Economics Minister in Flensburg on Sunday. “We have various options for cushioning these prices.”
Green leader Ricarda Lang told the “Bild am Sonntag”: “There will be further relief. The increased gas and electricity prices have not yet fully reached the people.” Like SPD leader Saskia Esken before him, Lang questioned Finance Minister Christian Lindner’s (FDP) plan to comply with the debt brake in 2023. SPD parliamentary group leader Achim Post told the German Press Agency on Sunday: “The ability to act in the crisis must not fail because of money.”
On Wednesday, the heads of the SPD, Greens and FDP want to meet for a coalition committee. FDP boss Lindner insists that the federal government once again comply with the debt brake suspended in the corona pandemic. The debt brake enshrined in the Basic Law only allows for minimal borrowing. In recent years, it has been suspended due to the high burden of the corona pandemic. Lindner now wants to prioritize projects. At the beginning of July, the cabinet wants to decide on the draft budget.
Lindner: A good four billion euros in interest paid in 2021
“To combat inflation, the state must end politics on credit,” Lindner told the “Welt am Sonntag”. “From now on, generating wealth must again be more important than distributing it.” The state paid a good four billion euros in interest last year. “It cannot be ruled out that it will be up to 30 billion euros next year. The rising interest rates are a signal for reversal.” Without the FDP, there would be endless debt and tax increases.
Lang, on the other hand, said: “The decisive question is not whether we will suspend the debt brake come hell or not, but whether we will meet the challenges of our time. One thing is clear for us Greens: We will not save on social issues. Not because of citizen income, not because of basic child security, not because of the necessary relief for poorer households.” She justified this with social peace. “If we save on social spending, more people may slide into poverty and lose trust in the state. This endangers the foundations of our democracy.”
SPD parliamentary group vice-president Post said that of course it was sensible, especially in the current crisis situation, to take a close look at which tasks were given priority. “The reverse also applies: the state’s ability to act in the crisis must be maintained – for any further relief as well as for continued investments in the future and strong social cohesion.” If the crisis in Ukraine, with its economic and social consequences, continues into the autumn, additional financial resources will likely be required to deal with it.
Greens rate the 9-euro ticket as a huge success
The coalition had so far decided on two relief packages. These include the tank discount and the 9-euro ticket in local and regional transport. Lang described the 9-euro ticket as a huge success. “We are now investigating whether people are really switching from the car to the train because of the ticket. If that’s the case, we definitely have to talk in the coalition about how we can build on this success.” Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP), on the other hand, calls for more structural reforms in public transport before there should be more money.
Lang also said: “In the case of future relief, we clearly have to be even more targeted, for example by staggering grants socially. And we have to change something in the long term.” The Hartz IV rate should increase by around 50 euros, as proposed by Labor Minister Hubertus Heil (SPD). In the case of future relief, the Greens also wanted to take people with small pensions into account. Social organizations had criticized that pensioners would benefit little from the relief packages.
FDP parliamentary group leader Christian Dürr rejected the demand for higher Hartz IV standard rates in the “Bild” newspaper (Monday). “The Hartz IV rates are correctly automatically adjusted to inflation. Unfortunately, the tax rates for employees are different. Due to inflation, the tax burden increases without people having higher real incomes.” Just as with Hartz IV, one could think about automatically adjusting income tax rates to inflation in the future.
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