Monday 11 October 2021
Compromise instead of struggle
Tax paradox helps the traffic light parties
A comment by Nikolaus Blome
The traffic light coalition must focus on debt and growth. And that could work – if they jump over their shadows.
One insight should finally have matured on Monday in the circle of the three traffic light parties: Not much is possible with taxes. Mind you: Not so much because the FDP is lowering it across the board, while the SPD and the Greens want to increase it in several places – and a sensible compromise between up and down would not be easy to find. No, there is not much going on for the future Ampel coalitioners when it comes to taxes, because the vast majority of tax changes require the approval of the Federal Council. But there, state governments, which consist exclusively of parties from the Ampeltrio, only bring together seven of the 69 votes. 51 votes, on the other hand, come from countries in which the CDU or CSU co-govern, i.e. can force abstention, which corresponds to a no. Curtain closed.
Nothing works without the Union. One can assume that the SPD and the Greens were aware of this during their tax-riot election campaign. The two parties will not let go of their plans, but they will certainly not fight each other for it and face an early defeat in the Federal Council. For the traffic light negotiations this means, in a paradoxical way, relaxation. That gives hope.
If the best of both party worlds can be brought together when it comes to money, then the traffic lights can turn out to be something. It is about double sustainability, financial and ecological, and none should be qualitatively more valuable than the other. Anyone who permanently ruins their public finances (or their industrial jobs) in order to reduce two percent of global CO2 emissions faster than planned will not become an international model – and to become that must be the central ambition of the coming federal government.
In truth, the scope for climate protection and state modernization is not that small. The federal government can incur around 100 billion euros in debt in 2022 because the debt brake is not yet in place again. A further 50 billion is in a reserve that will be available for years to come if the debt brake comes into effect again and limits the taking out of new loans. The federal government is currently taking out loans on such favorable terms that it ultimately pays back less than it borrowed. So a big gulp from the (debt) bottle for climate protection and infrastructure and then back on the path of the black zero, both for sustainability.
The best of the traffic light parties’ worlds of thought
At the same time, large and perhaps also many small investors are waiting to invest privately with government agencies in power lines, bridges and railway lines. Years ago, Peter Altmaier had the idea of luring citizens into such investments with a guaranteed interest rate guaranteed by the state. Why shouldn’t the traffic light parties come back to this? You would just have to make sure that the projects are planned, approved and built much faster. All three parties had committed themselves to this in the election campaign.
If they do it right, the growth of the economy, which has been decoupled from CO2 emissions for a number of years, will accelerate. At the same time, growth after the financial and economic crisis, company profits and millions of new jobs brought the state one tax revenue record after another, even without increased tax rates.
Means: The FDP would have to come to terms with increased borrowing for a limited period of time. The Greens would have to free themselves from their aversion to growth. And the SPD would have to forego the very large socio-political additional projects and instead ensure that the countless social benefits are finally bundled in such a way that they help the needy in a more targeted manner.
Request concert? Is there a fair in heaven? Maybe. But also the great opportunity to get the best of the three worlds of thinking of the traffic light parties together. It doesn’t have to be more. It can’t be less.