The last debates about the federal budget for 2023 this week are about a lot of money, more precisely about planned expenditure of 476 billion euros - of which almost 46 billion euros are to be financed by taking on new debt. It would be much more if the traffic light government hadn't outsourced hundreds of billions of euros to special pots.
This caused heated arguments on Tuesday between representatives of the traffic light government and the opposition in the Bundestag, especially the CDU/CSU parliamentary group. It once again became clear that the Union is still missing a line in budgetary policy a good year after losing the federal election.
"Record debt makers," said Union faction Vice Mathias Middelberg (CDU) in the direction of the government bench, on which Christian Lindner (FDP) was sitting. The finance minister can only comply with the debt brake next year because he has "exhausted every conceivable method" to accumulate loans since taking office.
One of Middelberg's neologisms was: "record debt stockpiler". In addition to the 100 billion euros for the Bundeswehr, he alluded to the defense shield of 200 billion euros to finance gas and electricity price brakes.
The counter-speech followed promptly - and it was not difficult for the representatives of the traffic light to respond to the criticism. "They rejected the defense shield, but they didn't make any other funding proposal," said FDP parliamentary group leader Christoph Meyer in the direction of the Union.
Sven-Christian Kindler, budget spokesman for the Greens, was even clearer. "You have to think about which opposition you want to be: constructive, state-supporting or just populist," said Kindler. In the past few weeks, when the 2023 federal budget was being drawn up, he would have wished for a union that would push the government along with specific financing alternatives. "Unfortunately, we didn't see it," Kindler said.
In fact, little has come out of the CDU and CSU parliamentary group in recent months when it comes to the budget. It wasn't just the coalition MPs on the budget committee who felt the same way. Press inquiries about concrete savings proposals also went unanswered.
It was said behind closed doors that the specialist politicians in their own ranks had unfortunately not yet recognized the need to save. Every Union politician, whether in the fields of education, development or social affairs, has their favorite projects for which they demand more, but not less, money - all the louder in the unpopular opposition.
The dilemma was also evident on Tuesday. Christian Haase, spokesman for budgetary policy for the CDU and CSU, criticized in his speech that the government is making full use of the credit line of almost 46 billion euros that the debt brake allows for 2023 and, despite the great uncertainty, is not leaving a debt buffer. A few sentences later, Haase named a number of spending ideas for which unfortunately no money was left. These included a higher Bundeswehr budget, the commuter allowance from the first kilometer and programs to promote STEM professions. That doesn't fit yet.
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