This is what the dispute about the basic pension is about

This is what the dispute about the basic pension is about

© Karl-Josef Hildenbrand / dpa
Many old people are running out of money.

People who have worked all their lives and have earned little should get a pension above Hartz IV level. But the legislation is crunching. Answers to the most important questions.

This is what the dispute about the basic pension is about

Those who have worked for little money for years, cared for relatives or raised children should no longer suffer as much financially in old age. That is the idea behind the basic pension. The Bundestag begins on Friday with parliamentary discussion of the law. Shortly before, supporters and opponents of the project took a clear stand again. The SPD, unions and social organizations are calling for swift implementation. The economy would prefer to see the project sunk. And the government partner Union not only places conditions for the passage of the law – the deputy CDU chairman Volker Bouffier even questions it completely. Answers to the most important questions about the basic pension.

Who should get the basic pension?

The basic pension is intended to benefit people who have paid little contributions to the pension fund for many years because they have earned little. The resulting low pension should be increased from 2021, according to the Federal Ministry of Social Affairs, by an average of EUR 75 gross per month. In individual cases, there can even be a gross surcharge of a good EUR 400. Around 1.3 million people, 70 percent of whom are women, should benefit in the planned start year 2021. At least 33 years of contributions are required. Around 1.3 million people could benefit.

From the beginning there was a violent dispute over the so-called means test, a calculation whether a potential basic pension recipient really needs the pension premium. After months of struggle, the Union and the SPD had defused this issue and agreed: it should not be the assets of a pensioner, but his possible income next to the pension should be checked. Single pensioners should be allowed to earn 15,000 euros a year, partners 23,400 euros a year, without counting towards the basic pension, according to the draft law. Union fraction leader Ralph Brinkhaus, however, accused Labor Minister Hubertus Heil and Finance Minister Olaf Scholz of “not delivering” on this issue a few days ago. So obviously there is still a need for clarification.

Where should the money come from?

According to the draft law, the basic pension is to cost between 1.3 and 1.6 billion euros per year by 2025. There are some in the Union who believe that the money is now lacking, given the billions of dollars spent on rescue measures in the Corona crisis. Union politicians also accuse Finance Minister Scholz (SPD) of not having presented a concept for financing the basic pension. A financial transaction tax, i.e. a tax on financial transactions, should be introduced for additional tax funds to finance the basic pension, as agreed by the Union and the SPD. So far, this has not existed. Federal Labor Minister Heil defended his party colleague against the criticism in a radio interview on Thursday. The agreement remains to pay the costs from taxes. “A financial transaction tax will also make a contribution to this. The Federal Minister of Finance is working on it. So it is going ahead on the spot,” he said on Deutschlandfunk.

What concerns are still raised?

For the income check, the pension insurance needs the data from the tax authorities, where the tax assessment notices of those affected are located. To do this, a functioning and fast automatic data exchange must be set up. The president of the pension insurance company Gundula Roßbach also warned at the end of last year of a high administrative effort: “In view of the several million pensions that should be checked, the relatively short period until January 1, 2021 for developing and deploying a fully automated solution is in sight the pension insurance problem. ” Minister of Labor Heil now speaks of the fact that the basic pension should start on January 1, but the payment could also take place later and then retrospectively.

Who recently voted for the draft and who opposed it?

Union and SPD had agreed in principle in the coalition agreement to introduce such a basic pension. But the SPD is particularly close to her heart. Michael Grosse Bröhmer (CDU), the first parliamentary managing director of the Union faction, told ZDF that there was no hurry, “because the pension insurance company itself says that nothing can be paid out before mid-next year anyway. As a result, it is a bit hysterical the SPD “. Hesse’s Prime Minister Volker Bouffier (CDU) immediately questioned the basic pension because of the billions spent in the Corona crisis: “I would test everything that is not absolutely necessary now. This includes the basic pension,” he said Rheinische Post.

The SPD reacted sharply to the sounds from the Union. Co-party leader Norbert Walter-Borjans said Rhein-Neckar-Zeitung: “It is impossible to question that now and to pretend that it cannot be financed because of Corona.” In the direction of the Union faction, he added: If faction leader Brinkhaus now thinks that he still has to do pirouettes, that’s not a good style. Finance minister Scholz had already issued sharp tones on Thursday: “We give large companies loans of several billion euros. And then someone comes along and says that we cannot pay the basic pension, which costs just over a billion “. SPD parliamentary group leader Rolf Mützenich told the newspapers of the Funke media group: “I assume that the Union will also want prompt advice, adhere to its own decisions in the cabinet and coalition committee and will not delay adoption in the Bundestag any further.” The basic pension is important for many, especially from the professions that are now recognized as systemically important: nurses, bus drivers, cashiers.

What’s next now?

Former SPD parliamentary group leader Peter Struck and ex-defense minister shaped the famous “Struck law” years ago: no law leaves the Bundestag as it came into being. That should now also happen with the basic pension. The political groups will continue to negotiate on the committees this Friday after first reading. It only comes back on the agenda for final advice and coordination once a compromise has been found.


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