Coalition leaders look for solutions to controversial pension and labor market issues. Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) met with CSU leader Horst Seehofer and vice-chancellor and Minister of Finance Olaf Scholz (SPD) on Saturday evening.
The round will discuss how pensions can be stabilized in 2025, which is part of the coalition agreement. The SPD has, however, already asked for a pension guarantee until 2040, which is particularly critical in the CDU.
Contribution percentage may not exceed 20 percent of the gross salary
According to the legislative proposal of Minister of Labor Hubertus Heil (SPD) the maternity pension is extended to children born before 1992. In addition, the pension in 2025 must be guaranteed at a level of at least 48 percent of the average wage.
Moreover, the premium may not exceed 20 percent of the gross salary. Moreover, according to the design, low-paid workers are exempt from social security contributions without sacrificing their right to pension. Heil recently accused CDU and CSU of blocking the proposed pension package (read an interview with Heil here).
Seehofer had expressed optimism before the meeting on Saturday night. Although the problems are enormous, especially with regard to the future of the pension. Maybe you can not solve all the problems right away, "but I think we will make significant progress," he said.
So much money in the cash register as never before
Thanks to the good economic situation, the German state currently has so much money in its cash register as never before. In the first half of the year, the federal government, federal states, municipalities and social security funds had a bottom line of EUR 48.1 billion more than they spent. This was announced on Friday by the Federal Bureau of Statistics on the basis of preliminary data.
The SPD chairman Andrea Nahles pushed the Deutschlandfunk with a quick understanding of the Union in the pension issue. It repeated the SPD's demand for a pension level until 2040 and warned the coalition partner not to spend longer working lives.
"A security guarantee only makes sense if you do not raise the retirement age at the same time," said the SPD leader. "The SPD is against raising the retirement age." That would de facto mean a reduction in pensions that could not be made with their party.
"We have to talk about extra income sources"
SPD budget expert Johannes Kahrs spoke out to stabilize the statutory pension until 2040 for extra taxes. "The federal budget grant for the pension will increase in the long term," he said. "We need to talk about additional sources of income, such as the tax on financial transactions or an extra tax on large assets." The postponement of the dismantling of the Soli or a higher VAT is no problem.
Among other things, the conditions in the coalition for a stronger reduction of the unemployment contributions demanded by the Union were controversial. Minister of Labor Heil finds this conceivable, but connects it to conditions. Therefore, small and medium-sized businesses should be supported in investment in training. In addition, it concerns improvements for short-term employees in unemployment benefits.
Contributors are relieved with 3.5 billion euros
In the coalition agreement, the Union and the SPD decided to reduce the premium rate for unemployment benefits by 0.3 points to 2.7 percent of the gross salary as of 1 January 2019. Contributors are relieved with 3.5 billion euros.
Fraction Union faction Volker Kauder (CDU) recently stressed that there was room for a reduction of 0.6 points. CSU main group Alexander Dobrindt called for a reduction of "at least 0.5 percent". This would be a relief of about six billion euros, he told the newspaper "Bild".
The background is that the contribution to long-term health insurance will also increase from 1 January 2019. Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) has announced an increase of 0.3 points, but also considers a magnitude of 0.5 points to be realistic. Currently the rate is 2.55 percent of gross income, childless pay 2.8 percent.
The latter was also open, if the reduction of the unemployment benefit had to be linked to the salvation plan that Heil had planned. It provides for improvements in maternity and invalidity pensions, low-wage lowering employees' social contributions and stabilization of pension levels and premiums until 2025. There have been recent discussions on the structure of maternity pensions.
"So far, the Union and the EPD have not made convincing proposals for pensions," criticized party leader Katrin Göring-Eckardt. The initiative of the SPD was called "client politics". "He promises people of regular work, who will soon retire, more benefits and hence debts in future generations." Men fell down, threatened by poverty among the elderly. "Pension policy is not done with boxing gloves, but only in the broad consensus, so that he also maintains dominance."
The fiscal spokesperson of the FDP faction, Florian Toncar, called the SPD "completely off the roll". "Despite record sales, new tax increases are planned to fund Scholz and Nahles' extremely flawed pension promises, which would hit people hard in the middle of our society."