Dhe parliamentary left in the SPD parliamentary group, the PL, is not lacking in self-confidence. At the end of June, she circulated a statement saying that the PL was “the largest and most influential current” in the parliamentary group in this electoral term. 95 of the 206 Social Democratic members of the Bundestag belong to the Parliamentary Left, including the parliamentary group leader Rolf Mützenich, three of his deputies, Parliament President Bärbel Bas, Health Minister Karl Lauterbach, the SPD leader Saskia Esken and Secretary General Kevin Kühnert.
Christian Lindner will probably not study the list of PL members every day. But the FDP chairman and federal finance minister must have suspected that there was a problem when the coalition agreement was signed at the latest.
Now, in the middle of the parliamentary summer break, this is once again being clearly worked out. Lindner had presented his plans to reduce the so-called cold progression, first via the FAZ and then with an appearance on Wednesday in Berlin.
The cancellation is clear
That would be a tax cut intended to prevent people with a decent income from not benefiting from a salary increase because inflation eats them up again due to the German tax system. The FDP has had a bad spring with poor results in state elections, most notably the loss of power in Lindner’s homeland of North Rhine-Westphalia. The FDP has always considered tax cuts to be a silver bullet to make its clientele happy.
Just as little as Lindner’s traffic light partner SPD and Greens were fundamentally surprised by his proposal, Lindner should have expected applause from the left. However, the refusal was very clear. In an interview with the FAZ, Wiebke Esdar, one of the three spokespersons for the PL, described the topic of income and expenditure as the “big sticking point” in the cooperation between the coalition partners.
“Christian Lindner wants to reduce cold progression and also relieve high incomes. We don’t see any scope for that.” Relief for people with small and medium-sized incomes is more important. This could be financed through additional income such as a wealth tax or an excess profit tax or “through the suspension of the debt brake”.
The chancellor’s approval is not enough
Other comrades were milder. Achim Post, one of the deputy parliamentary group leaders who do not belong to the PL, reacted to Lindner’s suggestions by saying that a “strong relief impulse right through to the middle of society” was correct and necessary, but criticized that the high incomes would be particularly relieved and the proposal is socially “not quite” balanced. “We should improve here.”
Lindner would have loved to hear Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s comment. The federal government said on Wednesday that Scholz had “fundamental goodwill” towards Lindner’s plans. They should be seen as part of a larger overall concept.
But despite all the importance of the Federal Chancellor, the Minister of Finance will only receive the required majority in the Bundestag if he also gets the Parliamentary Left and, of course, the Greens on his side. Therefore, in a kind of anticipatory bow to the left, he immediately incorporated into his proposal that he did not want to adjust the benchmark tariff values for “top incomes” that are over 250,000 euros. He recalled that his predecessor, the Social Democrat Scholz, had done the same when he was Federal Minister of Finance.