Agreement in the citizen money Zoff: Reform becomes reform

November 10, 2022, Berlin: Hubertus Heil (SPD), Federal Minister of Labor and Social Affairs, follows the debate in the Bundestag.  In its session, the German Bundestag votes, among other things, on the planned Bürg ...

Minister of Labor Hubertus Heil (SPD) wanted to initiate the largest socio-political reform of the decade with the basic income – after the agreement, only a small reform remains.Image: dpa / Michael Kappeler


Rebecca Sawicki

It was to be the great social reform of the 1920s. Should. Because after the boycott of the Union and the stop of the legislative process in the Bundesrat, the draft law of the traffic light had to lose feathers. And the reform came from the beginning as more of a reform.

The higher standard rate of almost 50 euros more per month is a joke. Especially in view of the increased prices, for example in the supermarket, this is a drop in the ocean. It was also planned that recipients would have to fear fewer sanctions.

Sanctions in which the little money is also cut. For example, if appointments at the job center are missed or reasonable work is not accepted. It was planned that these cuts would be severely limited – and that people should have the opportunity to find a job that they like, at least in the first six months. Not just one that is reasonable.

The Union thought that was stupid.

So stupid that the Union-led countries blocked the law in the Bundesrat – that’s why it now has to be adjusted in the mediation committee.

For Markus Söder (CSU) and Friedrich Merz (CDU), the citizen's income from the traffic light was an incentive not to work.

For Markus Söder (CSU) and Friedrich Merz (CDU), the citizen’s income from the traffic light was an incentive not to work.Image: dpa / Karl-Josef Hildenbrand

After the boycott, suddenly found the FDP the traffic light stupid sanction draft. And yes, now there isn’t. People – those living alone and families – must therefore continue to face severe sanctions. And who then suffers the most? Children.

Of course, sanctions do not only affect the person who missed the appointment – although here, too, the question is how humane it is to cut benefits that, according to the Patience Association are far too low anyway – but the whole family. Even children of those who are related.

There will be no “time of trust”.

The original plan was to use incentives instead of penalties. On training bonuses, for example. But no, the Union was certain: no one wants to work hard when life can be so easy. Well and now the citizens’ income will be a little different. There should be no “time of trust” and full sanctions should be possible right from the start.

At a press conference after the agreement between the traffic light and the Union, Britta Haßelmann, leader of the Greens parliamentary group, said that this decision also made sense for the employees of the job centers. The previous proposal was impractical. Nevertheless, as the Green makes clear, it should not happen that people are placed in any job. Special emphasis is still placed on qualification, further training and career orientation.

Let’s wait and see.

November 22, 2022, Berlin: Johannes Vogel (lr, FDP), First Parliamentary Secretary of the FDP Bundestag faction, Katja Mast (SPD) First Parliamentary Secretary of the SPD Bundestag faction, ...

Johannes Vogel (FDP), Katja Mast (SPD) and Britta Haßelmann (Greens) announce the agreement on citizens’ income at a press conference.Image: dpa / Michael Kappeler

And the traffic light also had to move towards the Union when it came to saving assets. Instead of 24 months, certain amounts now only remain untouched for one year. Certainly a topic for which the FDP has also campaigned. Because this also protects the self-employed who might have to use up their old-age provision if they draw benefits.

Only one point that benefits young people remains

After all, there is reason for young people from beneficiary families to breathe a sigh of relief: the traffic light was able to assert itself when it came to additional earning opportunities. Another topic that is particularly important to the FDP. It’s all about the much-vaunted equal opportunities. And yes, that’s good. This is important. Under no circumstances should the traffic light have been allowed to drift. Because this enables young people to earn money – and to be able to keep it without counting it against the “family fortune”.

“After the shit show of the past few weeks, the train has probably left.”

According to the press conference, the coalition partners are in good spirits. The parliamentary manager of the FDP parliamentary group, Johannes Vogel, speaks of “creating broad acceptance among the population” in this way. After the shit show of the past few weeks, the train has probably left. Recipients are stinky and feel fooled – opponents are now so stuffed with fake news that the citizen money is a wrong decision for them per se.

And it will also be seen whether the Union sees the agreement as positively as the negotiators of the traffic light coalition – as does the reaction of the members of the traffic light groups. Because after the Mediation Committee met on November 23, the new draft law has to go through the Bundestag and Bundestag again.

If the citizens’ allowance is actually to come by January 2023, it has to happen very quickly.

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