Three and a half weeks ago, Karlsruhe made a surprising verdict. Since then, the traffic light coalition has been looking for ways out of the budget crisis – will the breakthrough soon come?
The leaders of the traffic light coalition are continuing to look for money for the federal budget for 2024. According to dpa information, the negotiations were postponed until today late on Sunday evening.
Nothing was initially known about the course of the talks for which Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD), Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck (Greens) and Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP) met in the Chancellery on Sunday evening. At the SPD party conference at the weekend, Scholz expressed his confidence that an agreement could be reached. He ruled out cutting social benefits.
FDP politician renews rejection of tax increases
Meanwhile, FDP parliamentary group leader Christian Dürr once again spoke out against tax increases in order to get money for the new budget. “Tax increases in a country with the highest taxes are forbidden,” he said on the ZDF program “Berlin Direkt”. Anyone who talks about wanting to tax the “super-rich” more heavily in Germany is usually talking about medium-sized family entrepreneurs. “That means you’re not taxing anything other than jobs here,” he said.
Dürr advocated not abandoning the consolidation path when preparing the budget. “The federal budget will amount to around 450 billion euros next year. That is significantly more than in pre-Corona times. This means that the overall volume has actually increased,” he said. Now you can take your time and take a closer look at where you can save so that you can set up a solid budget. “Solidity has to apply now. The federal states still have that to do. The federal government is now delivering.”
SPD party conference for expanded borrowing
On the other hand, the SPD party conference at the weekend indirectly advocated for the debt brake to be suspended again in 2024. The delegates decided unanimously that “constitutionally stipulated leeway for the budget” must be used in the interests of the population. Politically, the war in Ukraine created the prerequisites for an emergency that would enable increased borrowing. The wording could still leave room for interpretation.
Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP) defended his party’s line. Lindner is completely clear and says that support for Ukraine is absolutely necessary. “And at the same time he wants to draw up a budget that is 100 percent constitutional,” said Wissing in the ARD “Report from Berlin.” In response to a question about speculation that the FDP might leave the government because of the budget crisis, the minister replied: “The FDP wants to shape this country.” When asked whether he would also be in the government, he emphasized: “Absolutely.”
The Karlsruhe ruling threw finances into disarray
In mid-November, the Federal Constitutional Court declared the reallocation of 60 billion euros in the 2021 budget to the climate and transformation fund to be null and void. The money was approved as a Corona loan, but was subsequently intended to be used for climate protection and the modernization of the economy.
At the same time, the judges decided that the state was not allowed to set aside emergency loans for later years. But the federal government did this in special funds – which is now tearing additional holes in the budget. Lindner sees a “need for action” of 17 billion euros in the core budget for 2024. There is also a lack of 60 billion euros for the next few years in the so-called Climate and Transformation Fund (KTF), a special fund that is economically separate from the core budget.
Will the budget not be passed until the end of January?
The parliamentary managing director of the FDP parliamentary group, Torsten Herbst, told “Bild” that the traffic light coalition should take enough time for a constitutional budget. He held out the prospect of adoption in the Bundestag at the end of January 2024. “But we are not under any pressure, a provisional budget is not a problem. I am optimistic that the Bundestag will approve a constitutional budget by the end of January,” said Herbst.
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