Salvation’s basic pension is still on the brink

The MPs from the CDU and CSU see a number of unanswered questions regarding the new social benefit, which is supposed to improve long-term low-wages in old age. You criticize: In the current form, the basic pension can neither be technically implemented nor paid. In view of the impending budget gaps in the corona crisis, doubts about the affordability have grown in the Union.

In public perception, the pandemic is currently masking the explosive nature of the dispute, which the government alliance almost blew up last year. The Social Democrats are increasingly losing patience. An SPD MP calls the behavior of the Union’s colleagues an “insolence”, the Chancellor should have intervened long ago.

The revolt of her party friends in the Bundestag puts Angela Merkel in a difficult position, since she had already supported the controversial basic pension compromise before the cabinet decision in February. Above all, however, the Union’s economic wing never really accepted that Merkel had largely adopted Heil’s proposals.

Salvation remains calm

The deputy head of the Union faction Carsten Linnemann (CDU) told the Handelsblatt: “The government has passed a bill, then it is normal that it comes to the Bundestag. But the MPs decide. And in the Union, we all agree: this draft basic pension cannot be approved. ”

The group leader Ralph Brinkhaus (CDU) had previously made it clear that the second and third readings necessary for the adoption would only be scheduled in Parliament if serious financing was available. In addition, the income test must be guaranteed to determine entitlements to a basic pension. There is no automatism “according to the motto: Now is the first reading, now we have to get ready. And then we will do administrative work in the second half of the year. ”

Salvation is calm. In a Deutschlandfunk interview on Thursday, he said that he “did not feel that it was stuck”. The Minister of Labor knows that the Union faction is playing with fire and the resistance will ultimately damage its own chancellor.

Merkel had tried at the beginning of the year to end the basic pension discussion in her party with a word of power. After the cabinet decision, she sent Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) and Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU) to the Ministry of Labor to demonstrate the unity of the coalition at a press conference with Heil.

Heil is now referring to this: “You noticed, and you also reported that I presented it together with Horst Seehofer and Jens Spahn. That is now not a position of the SPD, but of the entire federal government. “He also says that the basic pension would benefit precisely those low-income workers who were celebrated as everyday heroes in the Corona pandemic:” Sellers, nursing assistants, Delivery service driver, warehouse worker. “

Pension insurance complains

The basic pension is in the coalition agreement, but in terms of the specific structure, the Union and the SPD crossed from the start. In the end, the Social Democrats largely prevailed: the pension entitlements of low-wage earners who have at least 33 years of contributions to employment, education or care should be automatically upgraded. Income limits have been set for single persons and couples up to when the basic pension will be paid.

The pension insurance should determine whether the limits are exceeded with an income test. The Union, on the other hand, had called for a more extensive means test, in which the entire financial situation was examined. In addition, the CDU / CSU originally envisaged a model in which welfare recipients should receive part of their pension entitlements in old age.

Heil, on the other hand, insisted on a basic pension, “which also deserves the name” – and did not place the benefit in social welfare, but in pension insurance. However, the authority finds little joy in the new task: Even before the cabinet decision, the pension insurance company had complained in its opinion on the law on bureaucratic effort.

The administrative costs in the introductory year would be “probably several hundred million euros”. She also considers the order to establish an automated data exchange with the tax authorities for the income check by the end of the year unrealistic.

The Ministry of Labor, on the other hand, says the IT project is on schedule. However, an internal planning paper says: “Despite the greatest efforts, timely payment is not possible.” If the basic pension comes, it will definitely not be paid until January 1, 2021.

Existing pensioners are examined

In the case of “positive framework conditions”, ie quick legislation and without the corona crisis having a major impact on the work of the administration, payments for new pensioners could begin in late July 2021. It is more complicated with the 26 million existing retirees: each individual employment biography has to be searched for eligible basic pension times.

“The inventory – starting from the oldest years – will be processed successively, it will probably be used until the end of 2022,” says the paper that is available to the Handelsblatt. And further: “The gradual processing or payment of the basic pension should be communicated accordingly.”

Communication will also be necessary in view of the next Bundestag election in autumn 2021. In particular, the SPD claims that the law will improve around 1.3 million senior citizens. However, the basic pension will be difficult to sell as a success if most people with low pensions do not have a cent in their account.

The basic pension should be paid out of tax money, the costs are estimated at 1.4 billion euros in the starting year. In return, the coalition has revenue in mind from a tax on financial transactions that is to be introduced within the European framework. So far, however, Federal Finance Minister Olaf Scholz (SPD) has had nothing to show for this.

Linnemann sees none of the questions that have been unresolved for months: “The income check is incomplete, the administrability remains unsolved, and realistic financing is not in sight. As long as there are no solutions here, the basic pension will have little chance of success. “

The Federal Association of German Employers’ Associations (BDA) called on the coalition to start over with the project. “It is high time to pull the rip cord on the basic pension. Everyone involved in the project knows that the current plans cannot be implemented in this way. ”

The German Trade Union Confederation (DGB), on the other hand, demanded a new word of power from Merkel. The blockade of the Union is “unbearable,” said DGB board member Anja Piel. “The basic pension is an important step and a perspective for many for aging with dignity.”

More: Union doubts whether the basic pension can be financed – and slows it down

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