In the debate about the planned citizens’ income, the tone is getting rougher: government politicians accuse the Union of spreading untruths. In turn, she insists on her criticism of the social reform.
Even after concessions by the traffic light groups to the Union, there is no solution to the dispute over the planned citizens’ allowance. The Saxon Prime Minister Michael Kretschmer (CDU) continues to reject the social reform, as became clear on Saturday at a CDU state party conference near Leipzig. “The citizen’s income in its current form is a mistake and that’s why we as the Free State of Saxony cannot agree to it,” said Kretschmer.
A sole earner with a gross wage of 2,500 euros only earns a little more than if he were to receive citizen benefits, he explained. “Excuse me, but that’s not possible. No, that’s the wrong way.” Despite changes to the original government draft, the head of the SME and Economic Union, CDU MP Gitta Connemann, also maintained her fundamental criticism of citizen income and described the traffic light concessions as “cosmetic”.
On Friday, the traffic light factions presented improvements to the basic income draft – also in the hope of being able to convince the critics in the ranks of the CDU and CSU. The CDU-led states, including Saxony, could still block the project in the Bundesrat and thus prevent the planned entry into force on January 1st.
Lindner warns of “shabby competition”
The revised government draft includes tightening of the two-year waiting period – a kind of closed period with milder regulations – and new measures to prevent abuse by benefit recipients. It is planned, for example, that the heating costs during the waiting period should only be covered to an appropriate extent – and not unlimitedly, as originally planned. The Union had sharply criticized this point in the past.
According to the plans of the federal government, the citizen’s income is to replace the previous basic security system Hartz IV on January 1st. The aim is to put those affected in a position to be able to concentrate more on further training and looking for work. They should be put under less pressure by the job center. The standard rates of basic security should also increase by around 50 euros per month. Federal Minister of Labor Hubertus Heil (SPD) described the reform as “one of the largest social reforms in 20 years”.
Federal Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP) rejected opposition criticism of the social reform. “Especially when it comes to wealth, I advise against entering a shabby competition,” said the FDP chairman of the “Welt am Sonntag”. According to Lindner, if people slip into the cover because of a stroke of fate, they shouldn’t have to eat what they might have built up over decades. The protective assets include certain allowances for assets that, according to social law, do not have to be used to make a living.
Other politicians from the government groups accused the Union of spreading fake news. SPD leader Lars Klingbeil said at an event held by his party in Berlin on Saturday that they spread false figures and pit low-income earners against people who depend on the state. The Union is a combination of two parties, “which lies under Markus Söder and Friedrich Merz with the aim of dividing society,” he said.
Traffic light politicians complain about “populism” and “fake news”
Green party leader Britta Haßelmann also warned against false information. “I am very concerned that the discussion about citizen income in parts of the public is being conducted with populism, campaigns and false information. Especially on the part of the CDU/CSU, I would like the debate to be more objective in the interests of the people affected and social interaction,” said you. The deputy FDP chairman, Johannes Vogel, had previously described public claims such as that there should now be freedom from sanctions for benefit recipients with the citizen benefit as “fake news” – but without explicitly mentioning the Union.
At the weekend, the chairwoman of the Social Association Germany, Michaela Engelmeier, focused primarily on those in need: “In all the disputes between the federal and state governments, we must never forget that we are talking about people who have the least,” said Engelmeier. An agreement must be found quickly so that the new regulations reach the people “as quickly as possible”. “Even 53 euros more per month helps those affected enormously and can take away their existential fears.”
Despite the existing disagreements, the traffic light factions continue to hope for approval from the CDU-led states in the Bundesrat. The Chamber of States is expected to deal with the reform again on November 25th. The second and third reading of the law in the Bundestag is scheduled for next Thursday.