Otto Fricke, the author of this guest article, is a member of the Bundestag of the FDP for the constituencies of Krefeld and Neuss. Fricke is also the budget spokesman for the FDP parliamentary group.
Otto Fricke, the author of this guest article, is a member of the Bundestag of the FDP for the constituencies of Krefeld and Neuss.
Fricke is also the budget spokesman for the FDP parliamentary group.
For years, the voices of those calling for the debt brake to be relaxed have been increasing.
They are calling for debt to be taken out to finance investments, better education, or even for new social benefits.
Federal Finance Minister Olaf Scholz (SPD) will not explain anything else this week when he presented his draft budget.
All of these demands have one thing in common: They consider a higher national debt with the currently low interest rates to be justifiable or even useful.
In doing so, they rely on two basic assumptions: firstly, they assume that interest rates will not rise in the future, and secondly, that German economic output will no longer shrink.
If one of these two assumptions turns out to be permanently wrong - that is, if interest rates do rise or economic output collapses - the myth of the almost unlimited sustainability of government debt collapses.
Then the burden of debt for future generations grows and grows, in the worst case until it is no longer affordable.
So if we wanted to take on new debt safely, we would have to rely on the fact that interest rates will be zero and that the economy will continue to grow in the coming decades.
It's a daring bet and nothing more.
Even if this bet pays off in the next ten or twenty years, who can make reliable predictions for the next thirty or fifty years?
But these are the periods in which a serious budget policy must think, because budget policy should be a generation contract chiseled into numbers.
Every second euro in social spending
These days you often hear that even rising interest rates would not be a problem, because you only take on new debt to invest or to alleviate the crisis.
Good investments, so the argument goes, also pay off when interest rates rise.
That sounds plausible at first, but a look at the past few years is sobering.
Despite all the talk of increasing investments in the future, more than every second euro from the federal budget now flows directly into social spending.
The investment quota has been only ten to eleven percent for years.
And more than two thirds of the ever-increasing additional expenditure for which Finance Minister Scholz has been responsible in recent years has gone into the social sector.
Of course, social spending is not negative per se.
Our social market economy lives from them.
But social expenditures are always consumptive expenditures - expenditures that are used in the here and now immediately after their disbursement.
They are currently not investments that will add value or additional income in the future.
Above all, decided on expensive election gifts
In the recent past, Germany has actually invested far too little at all levels.
However, it was not the debt brake that was to blame, but rather the setting of political priorities.
After all, the Union and the SPD could have financed the necessary investments with the right priorities from existing funds.
After all, federal income increased by almost 50 billion euros per year from 2013 to 2019.
So the investment problem is political, not financial.
Instead, however, more and more new and above all expensive election gifts were decided - such as the pension at 63, the mother's pension II, the basic pension or the Baukindergeld.
You should be checked.
In addition, you have to make the effort and make many small-scale savings proposals across the entire range of the household.