The government pays out 65 billion euros to the citizens. But do those who need it really benefit? An evaluative analysis of whether the measures are fair and whether they serve their purpose.
Sociologists like to point out that people are perfectly fine with living with less. But they compare themselves to others. In other words, they accept in times of crisis when the size of the pie decreases. But they have trouble with it if their piece is proportionately smaller than that of their neighbor. That’s why the 65 billion euro relief package plays a major role in how fair it is.
The SPD chairman Lars Klingbeil had previously formulated the goal of the package as follows: “We have to help those who are really in existential need.” This also means that high earners suffer losses, “but they can cope with that.” The traffic light coalition made up of SPD, Greens and FDP, it must be possible to measure whether the measures presented today are fair and targeted.
Economists appreciate that these needy groups are helped directly instead of artificially lowering energy prices for everyone – such as the fuel discount. In addition, it is fair that these groups also receive the energy price flat rate of 300 euros, if it was previously available to all working people.
Nevertheless, the watering can principle is always the second-fairest solution: it would be ideal if older people with a small pension get more help than those who don’t actually need help. But pragmatically that would have been too difficult. The fact that students and trainees only get 200 euros instead of 300 euros does not make sense and seems unfair. It also exacerbates the feeling that the younger generation is being disproportionately burdened.
Housing benefit is a rent subsidy for people who have very little income but do not earn social benefits. The reform had been planned for a long time and is also included in the coalition agreement. Details became public as part of the third relief package. From September to December, recipients of housing benefit receive an additional heating cost subsidy. After that, the subsidy is permanently integrated into the housing benefit, which is fair and targeted up to a certain amount.
With the planned introduction of citizen’s income at the beginning of 2023, the standard rates for the needy are to be increased from 449 to around 500 euros. The measure is always targeted, but the increase of over eleven percent is proportionately too high to be fully justified.
This measure is only partially targeted because high earners benefit from it just as much as those in need. In addition, the 18 euros per month hardly correspond to the additional expenditure for energy that a child in the household entails. It would have been ideal to only relieve families in need, but in the amount of the real additional burden.
The regulation is subject to the approval of the federal states. This is by no means certain, because the federal government is “only” providing 1.5 billion euros and thus one billion euros less than for the 9-euro ticket, which was also only valid for three months. Irrespective of this and the question of whether the ticket will cost 49 or 69 euros a month, it only seems fair at first glance: All taxpayers are financing the measure, but some citizens can hardly or not at all benefit from it, even with the best efforts.
Anyone who lives in the country and cannot use local public transport due to a lack of offers has significantly less of a cheaper ticket than the inhabitants of the big cities. In any case, this understandable and pragmatic ticket is expedient in comparison to the multi-state nature of the transport associations.
If an employer grants its employees a special payment and this does not exceed the value of 3000 euros, it is now tax and duty-free. This regulation is targeted because this variant of the one-off payment makes it more attractive to compensate for inflation, which is currently very useful for both employers and employees. And it is fair because it is capped at 3,000 euros, so high earners do not benefit disproportionately.
The fact that professionals who work from home can deduct up to 600 euros a year from their taxes was a temporary measure and was put on “open end” as part of the relief package. Since working from home reduces the CO2 balance by eliminating commuting and office capacity, this measure is targeted, fair, family-friendly and, above all, contemporary.
The idea of curbing the increase in network charges is still very vague and needs to be discussed at European level anyway. Economics Veronika Grimm advises not to intervene in wholesale pricing, but rather to skim off the profits of electricity producers. She does not consider a price cap to be purposeful, as it creates no incentive to save energy.
Ironically, those who produce electricity from renewable sources benefit greatly from high gas prices. The fact that one now wants to skim off their profits does not sound expedient with regard to the energy transition.
On the other hand, it is unclear whether the manufacturers would put the profits one-to-one into the expansion of wind turbines and the like. Secondly, the companies were pampered for years by the EEG surcharge. Therefore, an additional tax is quite fair.
no And that is the decisive criticism of the relief package. The 65 billion euros for the relief package announced today must be added to the 30 billion euros for the first two packages. Somebody has to pay for that. Intergenerational justice is apparently given here if you believe the government’s argument: No supplementary budget is necessary. From 2023, the debt brake will take effect as planned. The ironic point: The state has higher tax revenues due to inflation, which is why a buffer was created, which is estimated to be in the single-digit billions.
But from the point of view of the younger generation, that’s milkmaid’s calculations: With the 65 billion euros, the government could have reduced debt or done more to combat climate change. Not to mention investing in schools and education. If a five-year-old child were to say: You could have significantly reduced these high burdens and inflation by acting in good time, so pay the bill and don’t push it on me in the form of higher debts – you couldn’t say much in reply.
Too many people get money who don’t need relief – and the wrong people have to pay for it.