It was all smiles and good words yesterday, after the third survey meeting of the Traffic Light Coalition, with which the Social Democrat Olaf Scholz intends to unite the support of the Greens and the liberals of the FDP to be inaugurated German Chancellor. “We have not read our programs to each other, but we have looked for answers to face the challenges that the country faces. The differences have been reduced, the similarities have grown but there is still a lot ahead, “said Green Secretary General Michael Kellner. “We are on the right track,” celebrated Social Democrat Lasr Klingbeil. “We will agree when we agree on everything,” added the liberal Volker Wissing, after announcing that on Friday they hope to approve a document already drawn up on which to start negotiating.
Before taking that step, it has been necessary to offer the first sacrifices for the sake of entering the government. Liberal sources confirm that the idea of lowering taxes is “postponed” for now. The FDP had in its program tax breaks worth 80,000 million that are left behind, but maintains as a red line its rejection of a relaxation of the so-called debt brake, which requires balanced budgets in times of economic normality.
The Greens for their part, they demand an investment program in climate protection and digitization for which increases in some taxes are not ruled out. The Social Democrats, in this financial chapter where negotiators first collided, they continue to pursue a combination of eases for the lowest incomes with increases for the highest incomes. In the chapter on coincidences, the three parties agree on a major investment offensive in decarbonization, digitization and demography, so that this axis called 3D has become the backbone of the principle of agreement.
To finance this semaphore program without increasing public debt, the Greens have proposed the formation of public investment companies through which the State invests in turning infrastructure digital and climate neutral. They give as an example the state bank KfW, which could flow funds that would not be accounted for in the general budgets. But the FDP sees this as a balance sheet hoax, and the SPD is also skeptical.
A compromise proposal has also emerged from outside the political circle. The economist Marcel Fratzscher, director of the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW) in Berlin, proposes to take advantage of the fact that in 2023 the debt brake will still be suspended, due to the effects of the pandemic. “You can take advantage of that fact to create a reserve to make investments that boost the economy in 3D land,” he said in an interview with the public television channel ARD.