Lindner: Debt brake forces politicians to take ‘real responsibility’

BERLIN (dpa-AFX) – Federal Finance Minister Christian Lindner has once again insisted on compliance with the debt brake. “The debt brake has a higher wisdom,” wrote the FDP politician on Friday in a guest article for “Spiegel”. “It forces political decision-makers to take real responsibility. Promising everything to everyone all the time – it doesn’t allow that.”

The minister listed a total of six reasons “for the debt brake and against weakening or abolishing it” in his contribution. First: the debt brake is valid constitutional law. “It may be regretted or welcomed, but respect for fiscal rules is not at the discretion of the finance minister or the budget politicians of the coalition factions.”

The debt brake also protects the state’s ability to act, as a higher debt ratio would limit its scope. It also forces politicians to set priorities. “In this way, public funds are used as efficiently as possible through a democratic negotiation process,” explained Lindner.

According to the minister, the instrument will not slow down economic growth. Although Germany needs higher investments, these would mostly come from the private sector. The general conditions here need to be improved.

As a further argument, Lindner points to effective climate protection, which is brought about by the debt brake. Targeted state financial aid is necessary in the transformative area, but must be made possible within the framework of the debt brake. “We should rely more on market-based competition for ideas and inventiveness and trust that this will accelerate climate protection.”

Finally, Lindner appeals to intergenerational justice. In an aging society that faces challenges such as geopolitical changes or climate protection, “the burden of national debt rests on the shoulders of a small number of economically active people.”

The debt brake anchored in the Basic Law gives the federal government only limited scope for taking out loans. Exceptions are permitted in the event of natural disasters and in exceptional emergency situations, such as most recently due to the corona pandemic and the war in Ukraine. The debt brake is one of the FDP’s central election promises, but it is controversial in parts of the Greens and SPD./jml/DP/nas