Relief package: help the citizens, just how? Coalition struggles for agreement

The SPD and the Greens are urging a decision this week on new state aid to counter the high prices.

Relief package: help the citizens, just how? Coalition struggles for agreement

The SPD and the Greens are urging a decision this week on new state aid to counter the high prices. Before the Bundestag discusses the budget for 2023 on Tuesday, there must be clarity, said the leaders of the parliamentary groups.

But it seems difficult to find room for a coalition committee in the tight schedule of the chancellor, party leaders and ministers. Just like the money debate. The catalog of possible relief measures, on the other hand, is slowly being formed.

How much money is there? How much do you need?

Finance Minister Christian Lindner still sees room for maneuver in the single-digit billion range for the relief package in the federal budget for this year. Among other things, he could scrape together the money because the tax revenue was better than expected, said the FDP politician at the cabinet meeting in Meseberg.

However, the Greens do not consider this sufficient. "We advocate different measures that are targeted," said parliamentary group leader Katharina Dröge on the sidelines of a meeting of the extended parliamentary group executive committee in Potsdam. "It will certainly not be in the single-digit billion range, which the coalition there should agree on." The previous two packages had a total volume of around 30 billion euros.

SPD parliamentary group leader Rolf Mützenich would not categorically rule out a supplementary budget either. "I also offer to think about a supplementary budget if it is necessary," he told the radio station Bayern2-radiowelt. But there are certainly funds in the budget that are not being spent. "Here the finance minister also has leeway." The Greens and SPD can also imagine a special tax on excessive company profits to finance relief measures - which the FDP rejects as hardly feasible.

The decision on the third relief package is to be made in a meeting of the coalition committee, which includes Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD), Vice-Chancellor Robert Habeck (Greens), Finance Minister Lindner and the heads of the coalition factions in the Bundestag and the three traffic light parties. A date was not yet known on Thursday.

Mützenich spoke out in favor of not making the decision in a night session. "There are some colleagues who are up all night, there are different preferences. I have to say: I would like to be very focused on a decision like this."

All three coalition partners and numerous associations and lobby groups had campaigned for their relief proposals in the past few weeks. Recently, they obviously converged on some points. An overview of which coalition partner is going into the race and what scientists would do:

SPD

The head of the SPD parliamentary group has presented a list of demands that is to be decided on Friday at the parliamentary group retreat. These include direct payments for people on low incomes, families, pensioners, students and trainees. Electricity and gas should not be cut off for anyone because they cannot pay the additional costs. Terminations for this reason should also be prohibited for six months. In order to depress energy prices, there should be a price brake for electricity and gas for basic needs. The upcoming increase in the CO2 price is to be suspended for two years, which the Greens have already rejected. There should be a nationwide public transport ticket for 49 euros.

Green

The Greens do not have an official list of demands, but the leaders of the parliamentary group have proposed help for people on basic security, people with small pensions, low incomes and families with children. These include reforms of citizens' allowances and housing allowances. The heating subsidy should increase and another energy flat rate should be paid. For families, for example, the Greens want a higher child bonus. Like the SPD, they support a moratorium on electricity and gas locks and a 49-euro ticket.

FDP

Above all, the Liberals want to make things easier for working people. The group demands that the package should have only a few measures and not a hodgepodge. "Political measures will not take every imposition and will not be able to compensate for every burden," says a decision paper. But it won't work without relief.

The focus is on inflation compensation in income tax. The FDP wants one-off payments, especially for pensioners and students, and generally finds them less useful. The Liberals also support a reform of the housing allowance with more beneficiaries. In addition, gas and electricity prices are to be decoupled so that electricity does not automatically become more expensive when gas prices rise.

scientist

A scientific study by DIW Econ, a subsidiary of the German Institute for Economic Research, recommends cushioning the high costs without putting additional strain on the environment. A heating subsidy for housing benefit recipients and a 29-euro ticket for local public transport are suitable. On behalf of the 140-member Climate Alliance, the scientists advise against a gas price cap for basic needs. It provides no incentive to save energy. With flat-rate payments such as a heating cost subsidy, on the other hand, the incentive to reduce one's own energy consumption remains. In addition, the study proposes reducing VAT on plant-based foods and increasing it on meat.

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