More speed in the expansion of infrastructure and more fair taxes – two main demands that emanate from the two-day retreat of the SPD. However, there are not clear statements on all topics.
Who pays the costs of the crisis? With this key question, the SPD wants to put German tax and financial policy to the test. “We want to see how we can strengthen the revenue side of the state,” said party leader Lars Klingbeil after the closed meeting of the party executive in Berlin. Questions of distribution and justice should once again come more to the fore. An eleven-member SPD commission is to develop a new financial and tax policy concept.
The SPD leadership gave backing to Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) for his course on arms deliveries to Ukraine during their two-day retreat. However, she did not position herself on the issue of supplying main battle tanks. Not an issue at the exam: The fierce criticism of the SPD Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht because of her New Year’s message accompanied by New Year’s Eve fireworks. “We didn’t evaluate the behavior of ministers,” said Klingbeil.
Eleven-member commission to develop financial concept
Already on Sunday, the SPD passed a resolution for more speed in the modernization of the infrastructure in Germany. She put the second main message of the retreat on state finances. The SPD had already called for higher taxes for the wealthy for the 2021 federal election. In the coalition talks of the traffic light government, however, the FDP vehemently opposed such plans.
In view of the changed financial situation with high expenditures to cushion the energy crisis, the question has to be asked again, the SPD now argues. The party executive therefore set up an eleven-member commission headed by party chairmen Klingbeil and Saskia Esken to develop the new financial concept.
In addition to financial and budgetary politicians from the Bundestag faction, members of the commission also include Juso boss Jessica Rosenthal, the state secretary in the chancellery, Jörg Kukies, and financial politicians from the federal states.
Fiscal policy: tension to be expected in the coalition
The SPD argues that important future investments in education, climate protection, energy supply, mobility and health should not be neglected despite the ailing financial situation of the federal government. At the same time, the distribution of the costs and profits of the crisis years and the current upheavals must not lead to growing social upheavals. “Rather, we have the task and opportunity to place investments in our common future on a fairer and more sustainable basis – and thus to strengthen solidarity and cohesion in our society,” says the commission.
In view of this formulation, alarm bells are likely to ring in the coalition partner FDP. The liberals vehemently oppose tax increases, even if they are only intended to affect the richest. In an internal concept paper, FDP leader Christian Lindner’s Ministry of Finance recently again clearly rejected higher taxes via an “energy soli”, a higher top tax rate or the introduction of a wealth tax. Instead, Lindner is promoting reducing tax burdens and abolishing the solidarity surcharge for taxpayers with high incomes, for example.
Clear rejection of longer nuclear lifetimes
The SPD gave a clear refusal to operate the three remaining nuclear power plants (AKW) beyond April 15th. “The debate has been decided. The chancellor made a clear decision. Three nuclear power plants will continue to run until April of this year,” said Klingbeil.
Scholz had decided the month-long coalition dispute over the lifespan of the nuclear power plants by making use of his policy competence and setting April 15 as the exit date. That was accepted by the coalition partners Greens and FDP, said Klingbeil. “There’s nothing wrong with that either.” Federal Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP) suggested last week that the decision on extending the nuclear lifespan be put in the hands of a commission of experts.
“Unrestricted” support for Chancellor’s Ukraine course
The Chancellor has defended his course on arms deliveries to Ukraine. “Germany is way ahead in supporting Ukraine,” said Scholz. This applies not only to financial and humanitarian aid, but also to arms deliveries.
The SPD politician emphasized that he would continue to act responsibly. “Everyone can rest assured that we will do what is right and good for Ukraine and peace in Europe, not public excitement.” The SPD leadership fully supports Scholz’s course, as Klingbeil said. This also applies to the decision to send Marder armored personnel carriers to Ukraine. “We stand by Ukraine and this support will continue,” emphasized Klingbeil.
After much hesitation, Germany and the United States announced last week that they would be supplying armored personnel carriers to Ukraine. Politicians from the FDP and the Greens have spoken out in favor of making Leopard-type main battle tanks available for the fight against the Russian attackers as the next step. Poland brought in a European alliance to supply these tanks. Klingbeil did not comment specifically on these demands and proposals.
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