Immediately we have the melody in our ears. Because who doesn’t know it, the well-known carnival song by Jupp Schmitz and Kurt Feltz. Less well known is that this song was written against the background of the price increases caused by the currency reform of 1948.
Who should pay for this? This issue will become increasingly important in the near future. Especially when the threat of the Covid19 pandemic is easing and the situation seems to be manageable from a medical point of view. Then the question of who pays for the costs of the multibillion-dollar aid programmes and emergency aid becomes immanent. This does not take into account the economic damage caused by the ‘lockdown’, the overspending caused by short-time working and rising unemployment and falling tax revenues.
Who should pay for this? This question contains enormous social explosives. And it is largely a (economic) policy decision. The question of whether to choose a supply-oriented or demand-oriented approach. Some want to protect the economy, others want to boost domestic demand. Some are calling for state aid for corporations, even if they are already relieved by the possibility of short-time working and at the same time pay out billions in dividends and bonuses. New purchase premiums for the automotive industry are already under discussion, or 9 billion in state money for Lufthansa alone. The others want to expand the welfare state and state investment. Keynes could be experiencing a renaissance. After the budget surpluses of the last strong economic years, new growth impulses could now be created in the crisis with a stronger new debt and the economic consequences of the Covid19 pandemic could be mitigated.
Who should pay for this? – This issue is also a question of the political actors and the majorities in our country. There is the Union, which is once again putting the basic pension demanded by the SPD up for sale, with Markus Söder calling for the complete abolition of the ‘Soli’, also for the highest-income tenth of the population, and tax cuts. Or Friedrich Merz, who rejects tax increases per se and demands: “After the acute crisis, we should put all state benefits of the federal government, the Länder and the municipalities to the test” and explicitly include social transfers. Incidentally, the same Merz who has previously advocated a limitation of the welfare state and praised a study by the Chemnitz University of Technology, which calculated an amount of 132 to 278 euros as sufficient for a livelihood in the strictest sense.
On the other side is the Social Democrats, among others with Olaf Scholz, who is once again calling for the introduction of a financial transaction tax. The planned tax rate of 0.2 percent on share purchases would generate around 1.5 billion euros in revenue. A one-off asset levy is also being considered aloud. The “Soli” is to be maintained for the richest ten percent of the population, as well as the basic pension, which would save around 1.3 million pensioners from going to the social welfare office. The SPD opposes the fact that corporations receive state aid as long as they still pay dividends. Bonus payments to managers should also be limited in front of government assistance. With their own aid programme, Scholz and the SPD want to support the municipalities, which are particularly affected by the consequences of the Corona pandemic, with 57 billion euros. The aim is to ensure that cities and municipalities are able to remain able to act and to provide their own local impetus for new growth. From this growth, the current tax losses can be reduced and funds can be achieved to compensate the deficit.
And then there’s the AfD. It has become quiet around them. She is currently trying to draw on her side with a cross-frozen strategy, anti-vaccination, conspiracy theorists and other dissatisfied people. It does nothing to solve the problem: the self-proclaimed “Party of Small People” also calls for effective tax relief – including the abolition of the “Restsoli” – and opposes any form of wealth levies. And, of course, for strict border controls.
Who should pay for this? – This will also be decided by the citizens at the next elections. One thing is certain: the consequences of the Covid19 pandemic will occupy us for years to come. If you look at the current poll numbers, the SPD has not been able to score with its ministers Olaf Scholz (Finance), Hubertus Heil (Labour and Social Affairs) and Franziska Giffey (Family, Seniors, Women and Youth). The increase in short-time working allowances (against the opposition of the Union), the protection against jobs, the child supplement for families, the protection against dismissal for tenants, the basic pension, and much more – none of this has benefited the party in the popular vote. The Union won, gaining up to 15 percentage points. With Julia Klöckner (food and agriculture), who in the midst of the crisis in a paid cooking show advertises cheap meat from the discounter. With Andreas Scheuer (traffic and digital infrastructure), who has turned on eleven million useless protective masks from China. With Jens Spahn (Health), who first announces that the fear of the virus is“more dangerous than the virus itself”, then for weeks he eased and missed the stockpiling of protective clothing and masks despite appropriate warnings. With Armin Laschet and Markus Söder, who have entered into a popularity contest, who can take what measures the fastest. And with Friedrich Merz, the former chairman of BlackRock’s supervisory board, who wants to limit the welfare state.
Who should pay for this? – The distribution struggles have begun. The solidarity and unity of the Corona crisis so far are over. It is to be feared that the group will prevail of those who will protect the corporations and “review” the social benefits. The dissatisfaction that then aday, the additional social upheavals, threatens to shake social peace in our country. Then the hour of populists and rat-catchers strikes again. And in the end, paradoxically, as it did after the refugee crisis, the AfD could be the big winner. Even if she did nothing for the dissatisfied.