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"Hard but fair" (ARD): Oil companies as war winners? Spahn and Lindner want to reduce oil tax

The ARD talk show “Hart aber fair” with Frank Plasberg is again about the war in Ukraine, especially with a view to rising energy prices.

Cologne – At the same time as the outbreak of the Ukraine war, an increase in energy costs in the West was predicted. First hesitantly and then jerkily, this was noticeable at the petrol pumps. The numbers are there for everyone to see, you can watch them increase every day. One can no longer afford to drive a car, one shouts from different directions. It has long been clear that people are not interested in going for a drive on Sunday, which they may not be able to do in the future. The working population and the lower to middle class of society, whose already low income is additionally burdened, are primarily affected by the increased petrol prices.

Frans Plasberg addressed this topic in his program “Hart aber fair” on March 21, 2022 on ARD. Susanne Holtkotte, who works as a cleaner in a hospital with a net income of 1200 euros a month, was invited to represent low-income earners in Germany. During the course of the evening, it repeatedly served as a reference to check concrete statements and recommended behavior examples from the panel of experts present for their practicability right on the spot. Holtkotte’s conclusion was not particularly optimistic. She expects a quick solution, the situation is urgent. With the current gas prices, there is even less left over at the end of the month than usual.

“Hard but fair” (ARD): The Ukraine war and the consequences – is energy becoming unaffordable?

According to Jens Spahn, an unbureaucratic and therefore quick measure could be to reduce taxes on oil. That could amount to 40 cents per liter and would benefit as broad a section of the population as possible, he said on “Hart aber fair” on ARD. He was supported in this project by Finance Minister Christian Lindner, who was connected via video. Dramatically exaggerating, he remarked: “We are in a crisis in which some are wondering whether they will be able to fill the fridge at the end of the week.” And further: “Commercials write to me that they fear for their existence.” That’s why it has to be done quickly, he also emphasized.

In the coalition, a first relief pact has already been decided, which includes further measures such as a heating cost subsidy or an increase in the employee allowance, he explained. The FDP politician did not appear to be entirely convinced of these additional measures, as he continued to argue in favor of the tax cut proposal, which would result in a direct rebate for individuals. Sweden is showing the way, where every citizen is paid 100 euros, but also Italy and France, which have capped the price of petrol.

“Hard but fair” (ARD) The guests of the show from March 21, 2022
Jens Spahn (CDU) Deputy Chairman of the Group
Thomas Kuchaty (SPD) State chairman of North Rhine-Westphalia and deputy federal chairman
Claudia Kemmert Energy expert at the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin)
Susanne Holtkotte works as a cleaner in the hospital
Ulrich Reitz Chief correspondent for FOCUS Online
Christian Lindner (FDP) in a one-on-one interview Federal Minister of Finance

Before he could listen to the heated discussion that his arguments caused and which Jens Spahn then had to face alone, Lindner said goodbye to Frans Plasberg and the ARD program with a slightly pathetic speech: “The state will not last you can compensate for a loss of prosperity, you can avoid hardships, you can balance them out.” “In the meantime, we should use everything we can to cushion the situation so as not to make people’s concerns even greater.”

TV talk “Hard but fair” (ARD): Germany has made itself too dependent on Russia

There was criticism from those present for Lindner and Spahn’s proposal. This is a measure that is not effective enough and favors the wealthy just as much if it is not primarily of use to them, said Thomas Kutschaty from the SPD. He is convinced of his party’s initiative, which envisages a “mobility allowance” that is linked to the level of income. Employers would pay this out directly, for a salary of up to 2000 euros there would be a bonus of 50 euros, of up to 3000 euros 35 euros, of up to 4000 euros 20 euros. In his program “Hart aber fair” on ARD, Frank Plasberg expressed concerns about the practicability of the idea, since, for example, the self-employed or anyone who has no employer for other reasons would first have to pay in advance.

To the broadcast

“Hart aber fair” (ARD) from March 21, 2022 on the war in Ukraine and the consequences. Is energy becoming unaffordable? The show in the ARD media library.

However, it is definitely a fairer system, also confirms the energy expert and scientist Claudia Kemfert, because with Spahn’s proposal you are primarily playing into the hands of the mineral oil companies, whose margins would increase horrendously. Kemfert stung a few times with her argument during the evening on “Hart aber fair” on ARD. She had to fight on several fronts. She not only tested Spahn’s patience, but also Plasberg’s at times, inasmuch as she never tired of repeating that Germany’s current unfortunate position on the energy issue is due to the political failure to have delayed the energy transition. If one had invested in renewable energies in good time, one would not be so dependent on Russian oil today. The candidate for Prime Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, Kuchaty, agreed: “We were wrong about Putin.” According to the SPD politician, one had become too dependent on Vladimir Putin.

“Hard but fair” (ARD): There is an urgency to emancipate yourself from Russia

Everyone would like to be “Putin-free” in terms of energy, Spahn countered, but that was only a medium-term option. A dispute broke out between Ulrich Reitz, the chief correspondent of “Focus online”, and Kemfert because Reitz suggested that the nuclear power plants in Germany be allowed to run longer given the current situation and because of the Ukraine conflict. Kemfert was categorically against it: “That’s no use.” What you have to do now, apart from investing in renewable energies, as she repeated again, is saving. She could barely pronounce the word when Holtkotte blew up. “My whole life is saving,” she ground out. She cannot leave her car at home because there is no infrastructure in the country where she lives, and public transport is not cheaper either. “Driving a car is not always more expensive than public transport,” she said on “Hart aber fair” on ARD.

Kemfert tried to catch up and added that what she felt above all was that now was an opportunity to curb waste. “With a traffic-free Sunday and a speed limit, you can become 5 to 8 percent less dependent on Russian oil.” If there was one point on which all the guests at Plasberg agreed, it was the urgency of emancipating themselves from Russia. But the methods and possible compromises that this requires are not equally justifiable for everyone. Some support the sanctions imposed as part of the Ukraine war, but regret the resulting increase in energy prices. At the thought of wanting to be supplied by a no less “problematic” state like Qatar instead, as suggested by recent negotiations by the federal government, one would like to “shake one’s head”, as Susanne Holtkotte put it, “no one can normal person want”. (Teresa Vena)

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