Merz in the Bundestag on the budget: “Miserable government action”

When the Bundestag discusses the Chancellor’s budget during the budget week, there is traditionally a general debate. This time, opposition leader Merz hands out sharply.

Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) observes Friedrich Merz, CDU federal chairman, in the Bundestag in the general debate of the budget week. 

Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) observes Friedrich Merz, CDU federal chairman, in the Bundestag in the general debate of the budget week. dpa / Michael Kappeler

The government and opposition have exchanged heated blows over the right crisis course for Germany in the face of the Ukraine war, lack of energy and inflation. In the general debate on the policies of the federal government, opposition leader Friedrich Merz (CDU) accused the traffic light coalition in the Bundestag of “miserable government action”. Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD), on the other hand, declared that the state would ensure that millions of citizens would get through the crisis on their own. “A crisis of which we can say today: our country has it under control.”

The reason for the general debate was traditionally the budget of the Chancellery, which was discussed on Wednesday in the one-week budget week. The 2023 federal budget envisages spending of around 476 billion euros and new borrowing of 45.6 billion euros.

Merz attacks Scholz massively

Merz accused Scholz of wrong decisions and failures in crisis management. “You may not be able to do better. That probably won’t change either,” he said. “The tragic thing is that the situation for millions of households and people in this country is getting more difficult every day.” Many people no longer know how to financially reach the end of the month, many companies are stuck until the Throat.

Scholz missed opportunities after his turnaround government declaration in February. At least once he should have given a big, sweeping speech, “which mobilizes the best forces in our country,” said Merz. “Instead, you and your coalition are drowning in constant arguments between your departmental ministers and in an increasingly clear loss of confidence among the population and our European neighbors and friends in the ability to find solutions and in the reliability of this federal government.”

Scholz then accused Merz of a distorted representation of reality in Germany. His speech reminded him of Alice in Wonderland. “You downplay what is really big, and vice versa. What actually happened and who was responsible for it all becomes blurred. And what initially sounds logical is in fact sheer nonsense.”

November 23, 2022, Berlin: Friedrich Merz (front row M), CDU federal chairman, speaks with Christian Dürr, parliamentary group leader of the FDP in the Bundestag, in the general debate of the budget week. 

November 23, 2022, Berlin: Friedrich Merz (front row M), CDU federal chairman, talks to Christian Dürr, leader of the FDP parliamentary group in the Bundestag, in the general debate of the budget week. dpa / Michael Kappeler

Chancellor Scholz is optimistic

Scholz defended the course of the traffic light coalition: “In twelve months, this federal government has got more going, implemented and cleaned up than was possible in the governments of the past twelve years.” The Chancellor emphasized the relief packages worth billions for citizens and companies. At the same time, investments are being made in infrastructure and digitization. Germany’s energy security is “probably” guaranteed for this winter. Scholz referred to full gas storage facilities, liquid gas terminals, new supply contracts, the restart of coal-fired power plants and the continued operation of nuclear power plants.

The federal government had “resolutely changed course,” emphasized Scholz. Households and businesses across the country used energy sparingly. “That remains very important – especially with a view to the coming year and the winter of 2023.”

The chancellor went on to say that the federal government cannot subsidize the rise in energy prices entirely. “But we are reducing it to an acceptable level.” Scholz pointed out that sales tax on gas and district heating would be reduced and that gas and heating customers would receive a one-time payment for December. In addition, the framework conditions for the gas, heat and electricity price brakes for private households and companies are now in place. These should come into force on March 1st. They should also be paid out retrospectively for the months of January and February.

Alice Weidel: “Your policy is destroying Germany”

The left accused the traffic light of chaos and insufficient help in view of the energy crisis and high prices. “Many people do not feel protected and supported,” said parliamentary group leader Dietmar Bartsch. The budget would have to put up a large protective shield, but it was “wellness for the wealthy and no help” for the majority of citizens. In winter there is a risk of an “impoverishment avalanche”.

AfD faction leader Alice Weidel accused the traffic light coalition of leading the country to ruin. “Your policies are destroying Germany,” she said. “Twelve months of traffic lights, that’s twelve months of willful destruction of our economy and our prosperity, twelve months of patronizing, paternalism and cupping of the citizens, twelve months of politics by a government that preaches restrictions while drawing on the full.”

Green parliamentary group leader Katharina Dröge called for more efforts to protect the climate. “Anyone who takes the climate crisis seriously knows that we will have to make a lot more effort.” The pace must increase significantly, especially in the transport sector.

Merz accuses Scholz of breaking his word when it comes to the Bundeswehr billions

Union faction leader Friedrich Merz has also accused Chancellor Olaf Scholz of breaking promises in connection with the announced special fund of 100 billion euros for the Bundeswehr. The defense budget will not increase to at least two percent of gross domestic product as agreed, but will fall by almost 300 million euros, said the CDU chairman on Wednesday in the general debate on the government policy of Scholz and his traffic light government in the Bundestag in Berlin. “This is a gross breach of promise to Parliament and above all to the Bundeswehr,” he criticized.

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