“Anne Will” from September 25th, 2022: Christian Lindner promises relief

At “Anne Will” there was an expected talk about the gas levy and the gas price brake. But it would be important to listen to the voices of the people.

Wouldn’t it be nice if there were real answers in a political talk show instead of just ready-made phrases? at Anne Will Christian Lindner was spontaneous enough that evening to react annoyed to possible disputes with Robert Habeck. On the subject of the show: “No one should have to freeze or starve in winter – can the government keep this promise?” but he made evasive statements, which was to be expected.

Guests at “Anne Will” were:

  • Julia Friedrichsauthor, journalist and filmmaker
  • Christian Lindner (FDP)Federal Minister of Finance
  • Karl Josef Laumann (CDU)Minister for Labour, Health and Social Affairs of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia
  • Clemens FuestPresident of the ifo Institute – Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich eV

When the rich talk about the poor

None of the invited talk guests will ask themselves for a second in winter whether the increased gas and electricity prices or inflation really affect them. Food is getting more expensive? Too bad, but not really important, ministerial and presidential salaries make it possible. Therefore can Clemens Fuest then point out that it would be right if, for example, bakeries passed on the increased expenses to their customers. Let them eat cake when they can no longer afford the bread.

Of course, nobody said that in the round, in which there was also a lot about the low-income working class, which should already support politics. But the talk nevertheless developed several times in this direction. The filmmaker Julia Friedrichs, who has been dealing with the new “working class” for years and interviewed people from the lower middle class and documented their lives, was the voice of reason that evening, who also said of herself that her concerns were certainly others are than those of the people who now urgently need relief.

The goal: politicians don’t want to leave anyone alone

She wants Christian Lindner now relieve in the form of a gas price brake. He wants to “correct the impression” that politics would leave people alone with the rising prices. It is true that it looked completely different up until Sunday, that the gas surcharge was well on the way to becoming a reality. But now there is the idea of ​​the gas price brake, which should take away the “price peak” from people. It won’t get cheaper any more, that’s clear anyway, and people couldn’t expect that we in Germany would get prices like before the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine. Everything will “normalize at a higher level” in the next few years. And that’s where the gas price brake can help, but at the same time Lindner insists on the debt brake for 2023.

50% of Germans have no reserves

The problem, however, is that in recent years it has been neglected to look at the almost 50% of Germans who, according to Friedrichs, were unable to build up any reserves and who, in this tense situation, therefore have to tremble before the end of each month as to whether the money is sufficient. Julia Friedrichs spoke urgently about the lower middle class, people who earn around €2,000 gross every month and at the same time often keep the proverbial shop running with their commitment.

The well-heeled gentlemen present understood that, which is of little use if you don’t know how to pay the bills at the end of the month. These people need reassurance that everything will be fine and that they will not, to take up the subject of the show, starve and freeze in winter. One way is to decide on a few measures that are binding for everyone, instead of getting lost in the small details of support and funding options.

Special payment instead of gas price brake

For once, Karl-Josef Laumann, Clemens Fuest and Julia Friedrichs agreed that these people could be given a special payment of €1,000. That would also benefit those who had no gas heating at all, because they are not primarily heated by one gas price brake relieved, but still have to struggle with rising electricity and/or oil costs. Finance Minister Linder liked his idea better, the €1,000 was far too expensive.

Relief packages amounting to billions of euros were decided and partially paid out, so Lindner and he can understand the desire for a big solution. But there are so many individual problems that the small-small solution is simply the better alternative. Of course, no politician can be convinced of the opposite in a live broadcast, not even when the other talk guests point out what should actually be clear to everyone: the past support was mainly received by those who were already doing quite well anyway. And the concern is now great that it could happen again this winter.

Saving incentives instead of gas price brakes?

The evening wasn’t made to take away those fears. For a long time, it was only about why the idea of ​​a gas price brake is now the best idea for most, which European models would not work for what reasons and why subsidies should not actually be distributed with the watering can. Clemens Fuest, who considers the gas price brake to be “fundamentally wrong”, spoke out in favor of creating savings incentives and not supporting companies too much. Many have made profits in recent years and thus been able to build up reserves, cases of hardship could be supported with loans, but the state should not intervene. And the increased costs would also have to be passed on to the customers. How they were then supposed to cope with rising energy costs and inflation remained unanswered. Wasn’t the topic of the evening.

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After all, Fuest was also of the opinion that one should concentrate on the “poorest”. However, this does not mean the poorest of the poor, but above all those who do not receive any transfer payments. Of course, provisions are made for them differently, but there is still this smack that people who have little are played off against each other, while those who have a lot can still increase their wealth even in times of crisis.

Further topics:

  • coalition quarrel: “I wish for a bit of seriousness,” said Christian Linder when Anne Will asked him that his idea of ​​continuing to use old energies such as nuclear power plants and coal might annoy Robert Habeck. That would not be the goal, the main thing would be to lower prices and get energy for Germany.
  • wealth tax: Julia Friedrichs suggested that the heirs could be taxed more in Germany and thus help finance increases in gas prices. Christian Lindner saw neither a basis for this nor the need, there was “no leeway” for such a tax increase. As expected, Clemens Fuest agreed with him.

What this group lacked was a practical background. While Julia Friedrichs comes into contact with people for her work, who report on their needs and fears for this winter and who were well aware of their privileges, Christian Lindner referred twice to letters that would reach him. However, paper is very patient and, in the case of the Minister of Finance, is also pre-selected. Of course, these are always individual fates, but the fact that the minister prefers to promote and initiate several individual measures rather than specifically helping those who fear hunger and cold gives a little idea of ​​which group of voters this policy is actually being made for .


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