A traffic light coalition argues over a debt brake and a € 9 ticket

BERLIN After Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) announced further reductions for energy consumers, the coalition argues over the debt brake. Labor Minister Hubertus Heil made the return to the statute of limitations for new debts, planned for next year, dependent on the economic situation. “If we fall into a mass recession, the coalition has to reconsider whether the debt brake should be respected,” said an SPD politician from the OM media group (Saturday).

The Greens also have doubts about the return to the debt brake. On the other hand, the FDP wants to stick to it. “Some speculate that there will be an exception to the debt brake again,” said FDP leader and finance minister Christian Lindner of the German Press Agency. “There is a misunderstanding behind this that you can then finance general political projects and wishes. But that’s legally impossible. “

There is also a dispute in the coalition over the following regulation regarding the 9-euro-month ticket in local and regional transport. The SPD and the Greens are in favor, the FDP against.

In view of the soaring energy prices, Scholz promised further reliefs for citizens early next year on Friday, but this should be done primarily as part of the housing benefit reform. Lindner told DPA that plans would be determined during regular budget consultations. For this purpose, no supplementary budget will be presented.

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“Our goal remains to combine adherence to the debt brake with relief and record investments,” emphasized the FDP leader. “But beyond that, it takes courage to make clear decisions about political priorities.” Achim Post, MP from the SPD faction, stressed that his priority in budgetary considerations would be “to maintain strong social services and maintain a high level of future investments”.

The debt brake, envisaged in the Basic Law since 2011, is designed to ensure that the federal and state budgets are done without loan income. For the federal government, net debt is limited to 0.35 percent of gross domestic product. In “extraordinary emergencies”, however, the Bundestag may suspend the debt brake, as it did in 2021 and 2022 due to the corona crisis.

Heil pointed to this exception. “We don’t know what will happen in the next few weeks. I will mention the Russian gas embargo here, ”he said. In that case, there may be a “need to discuss it again” situation. Katharina Beck, spokeswoman for the financial policy of the Greens in the Bundestag, also referred to the exception rule. In her opinion, “it is” more and more reminiscent of an extraordinary emergency, “she told Bild (Saturday).

The Paritätische Gesamtverband also called for an immediate reaction from the federal government to rising energy prices. “Electricity and gas prices are rising now and in the coming weeks. We need to relieve people quickly – and not only on January 1, “said managing director of the Süddeutsche Zeitung (Monday) Ulrich Schneider. The current government schedule completely ignores the dynamic and dramatic nature of the situation.

There are also disputes in the coalition regarding further relief. Lindner repeated his not for the 9 euro ticket. This is a temporary measure, as is the discount on tanks. “Therefore, the federal budget does not plan to continue the discount on tanks or funding for further regulation of the ticket for 9 euros,” said Lindner from the Funke media group. With the ticket, taxpayers financed an offer that did not cover the costs. Those who could not use it – as in the country – also paid.

In turn, the leader of the SPD, Saskia Esken, called for the successor’s plan to be negotiated. “Transport Minister Volker Wissing and his ministry must now quickly start discussions with traffic light groups and the Länder and make a corresponding proposal to further develop the EUR 9 ticket,” said Funke Group.

Environmental leader Ricarda Lang also called for a follow-up in the Tagesspiegel: “Of course, the potential for affordable public transport in Germany is enormous and the € 9 nationwide ticket is a successful model for which we should find further regulation – not least from a climate policy point of view.

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