The true face of the turning point, which Olaf Scholz wrote to the coalition a year ago, is only now becoming apparent in the fight for the distribution of the budget billions. However, this is already the first illusion with which the traffic light serves the public. Because the budget is no longer what it seems.
In roughly the size of the budget, there are crisis funds and secondary budgets in which the focal points of government policy are hidden. This can certainly be justified – because of the triple acute crisis: Corona, Ukraine, energy, which brought extraordinary burdens with them in a short time. Not to mention climate protection.
If, at the same time, almost as much debt and credit authorizations were accumulated in just four crisis years as in the previous 70 years, this is not due to crisis management, but to a second illusion. This has a lot to do with the 100 billion special fund, which Olaf Scholz made a focus of his "turning point" speech a year ago.
Much talked, little traded
Since then, there has been a lot of talk about weapons. But the rearmament of the Bundeswehr is still a long time coming. It does not seem to be a priority. Orders and procurements are not progressing. And the defence budget is still not what was promised.
The delay can be explained by the fact that Scholz needed the 100 billion euros at the time not only to equip the Bundeswehr, but above all as a protective shield for coalition peace. Because the extra money saves the government from having to save elsewhere for the "turning point".
Imagine if there were no special fund, and the entire national defense had to be covered by the current budget. Scholz did not want to tie the failures of previous governments to the leg of the traffic light. This has the absurd effect that very quickly the routine from the time before the turn of the era has returned.
The Bundeswehr must wait (once again)
In any case, the money for the projects agreed in autumn 2021 has been decided and planned much faster than what was announced by the Federal Chancellor a year ago. This is also part of the core of his "turning point" speech: At the time, Scholz gave the impression that although times have changed radically, his government does not have to give up any item on its wish list.
Once again, the Bundeswehr is the first to feel this. The scenes are similar: the defense minister begs for money, while other departments in the old rut register their luxurious claims. It almost seems as if the thought plays a role: now more than ever.
The exorbitant, outsourced effort was repeated in the energy crisis. It has led to Germany being spared chaos. The result, however, is public finances that can hardly be controlled. Where the conflicts of interest lie, shows the dispute over the basic child protection.
How much does it cost? No one knows.
Not that it is not necessary to fight child poverty. But this, as in many other projects to perfect social security, is associated with additional welfare, the amount of which becomes incalculable. The intention to facilitate access to state support and thus reach those who are actually in need has turned into a rain of money that benefits almost every second child. How much does it cost? No one knows.
According to this pattern, which has survived the turning point faster than anything else, almost every social benefit arises and thrives. It is always more expensive than planned, it is always insufficiently financed, it always suffers from the fact that desire and reality soon diverge. The contradictions crystallize in a shortage of personnel, which runs right through the state, municipal and private services of general interest. Daycare centers, schools, nursing homes, hospitals, job centers, police officers – they all threaten to no longer be able to keep what was promised.
In this way, social policy makes the burden on the budget rise like yeast. It has led to the fact that the space for free design has shrunk to niches. In a welfare state, there is nothing fundamentally wrong with this, as long as other vital needs are not suppressed. But this is the case in Germany.
If even national defence no longer fits into the budget, the country lives beyond its means and politics in the illusion of setting the right priorities. According to the Federal Minister of Finance, part of the "turning point" is a "reprioritization" of government policy. So far, there has been no sign of this. The federal budget is no longer the art of government cast in numbers, but an expression of a creeping loss of state credibility.