The former Federal Finance Minister and Chancellor candidate Peer Steinbrück (SPD) expects “rough times” and three to five “very difficult” years for Germany as a result of the corona pandemic and the Ukraine war. The prosperity paradigm of the Federal Republic is clearly in question for several years with a view to growth and large scope for distribution. An increase in unemployment is also possible. “I believe that due to a certain inertia among the civilian population, it has not yet been understood what this turning point means”.
In his view, the United States would orient itself more towards the Asia-Pacific region and therefore make demands. “They will expect more responsibility from Europe and that is why the issue of a certain leadership role for Germany plays a central role,” stressed Steinbrück. “I believe that the SPD has suppressed this for decades.”
In general, he would like a “much more violent and clearer debate” about the priorities of government spending, with a view to the consequences of the corona pandemic, the defense capability of the Bundeswehr, climate change, reconstruction aid for Ukraine, digitization, affordable housing, the state of the schools and the infrastructure in the country as well as a demographically stable pension scheme.
But not with the effect of “taking the money out of the social budget”, rather it should go “under the principle of need” to those “who are the losers in this society”.
Steinbrück, who as a minister was confronted with the euro financial crisis, criticized the European Central Bank’s (ECB) handling of inflation. This was foreseeable and “a risk hovering over us for a year or two”. The current situation is not solely due to the war. Rather, the risk had already been created beforehand, “among other things due to the ultra-expansive policy of the ECB”.
The bank underestimated inflation and tried to camouflage. Steinbrück accused the ECB of having “pumped a lot of money into the markets and should have known that the question was: How do I get the toothpaste back in the tube?”.
Steinbrück is skeptical that Ukraine could be given the status of an EU accession candidate. This is solely due to the war. “There are admission criteria, and unfortunately Ukraine is quite far away from that.” It is a country “riddled with oligarchs, which is highly corrupt and which clearly has a very political judiciary”.
Meanwhile, Steinbrück also doubts that the current Minister of Finance, Christian Lindner (FDP), will be able to comply with the debt brake in the future. “I don’t know how he intends to do it. Especially how he intends to do it without raising taxes.”
For example, an increase in inheritance tax is possible. The wealthy have been the winners of the last ten years, and the federal government must ask itself “whether a certain increase in inheritance tax”, for example to finance school equipment, “would not be the right measure”.
Outside of Steinbrück’s interview, the journalists Ulrich Wickert (former daily news moderator), Ulrike Herrmann (taz) and Michael Bröcker (The Pioneer) also commented on current political events on “Maischberger”.
Right at the beginning of the program, Sandra Maischberger asked Ulrich Wickert for a definition of the word “Scholzen” – a term that was coined by Scholz’ previous behavior in the role of Chancellor. “Explaining something without emotion, what a political decision is. But to explain it in such a way that you can’t pin it down afterwards,” Wickert defined. As a contrast to this, he sees “habenen”. In the Ukraine, “scholz it” would mean “promise a lot – keep little”, read Maischberger.
Ulrike Herrmann saw this definition as a communication strategy. She emphasized that “all politicians broadcast for their own people”. In the event of a partial defeat, it is important to be able to communicate: “It’s not up to us, the Ukrainians, it’s up to the West.”