How long does it take for social security to end?
Seven points for social security in times of crisis
Corona hit Germany, yes the whole world, with force. It often particularly affects those who have struggled before. We are experiencing the worst economic crisis in decades. The fear of the consequences of a renewed increase in the number of infections is palpable. Questions about what this means for childcare, schools, health care, the economy and one's own workplace are omnipresent. The consequences of the crisis will preoccupy us well beyond the next federal election. The federal government's corona management was often inadequate over the summer, which is one of the reasons why the number of infections is rising again.
The LEFT parliamentary group. in the Bundestag supported measures by the federal government to save jobs and companies during the crisis. And we have called for additional, urgently needed measures. We have achieved protection against resignations and the suspension of Hartz IV sanctions. As a result of pressure from our group, the wage replacement rate for parents who do not have childcare has been expanded and the short-time work allowance has been increased, which, however, is still too low in our opinion. We fight for pandemic surcharges on social benefits and for self-employment benefits in order to prevent a wave of bankruptcies in small businesses, e.g. in bars and pensions as well as solo self-employed artists. We demand better pay and better working conditions for employees, especially in “systemically important professions”. Professions and activities that are disproportionately exercised by women are particularly “systemically relevant”. However, it is precisely these activities that are poorly paid or not paid for. Socially necessary work must be reassessed now and for the future.
1. As the social opposition, the DIE LINKE parliamentary group is fighting for a social protective umbrella to cope with the consequences of the Corona crisis.
The federal government's economic stimulus package comprises 130 billion euros, huge sums are available for corporations like Lufthansa, and a few cents at best for the poorest. The reduction in VAT might save the average wage earner a few euros on weekly shopping, while thousands can be saved on luxury car purchases.
For us it is clear: Germany should come out of the crisis more socially and fairly than it went into it. Late summer 2020 is not the time to speculate about color games and coalitions at the end of 2021. Citizens now deserve answers to their sometimes dramatic problems. We need social security in the country - during and after the crisis! Corona shocked the global economy. Employees and companies feel the consequences and struggle to survive with each passing month. Unemployment threatens to rise further. Instead of - as with the economic stimulus package - distributing tax money according to the watering can principle, we need the funds in a targeted manner for a social protective shield:
- That is why the short-time work allowance has to be increased to 90 percent and extended until the crisis is over. In the low-wage area to 100 percent.
- Help for the self-employed - especially in the field of gastronomy, the event industry, in art and culture - must be continued and expanded indefinitely. We advocate effective self-employment benefits so that solo self-employed and freelancers are lifted out of existential fears.
- We want employment guarantees in companies that receive state aid. Assistance from taxpayers is incompatible with layoffs.
- As a lesson from the crisis, reforms are urgently needed in the health and care sectors. Applause and compassion for caregivers have not improved anything politically. We need significantly better pay and much better working conditions, especially with a fixed number of staff, in nursing and care for the elderly. No more commercialization, cost pressure and privatization!
- Wherever the crisis has made new forms of good work possible, we want to maintain and expand them.
- Corona is becoming a significant burden for municipalities. The federal government is doing too little to support cities and municipalities. We need a protective shield for municipalities and a haircut.
2. Through the crisis with a strong welfare state: The DIE LINKE parliamentary group wants to make the social security systems future-proof and crisis-proof.
The social security systems must be protected from the attacks of those who want to cut benefits in order to pay for the crisis. Rising costs must not be shifted unilaterally to employees, insured persons and patients. The crisis has put the social systems under considerable pressure and reserves have been used up. Voices from the Union and FDP are questioning the financial viability of the welfare state because of Corona.
- In times of crisis in particular, we need strong unemployment insurance that takes effect sooner and longer. Instead of raising Hartz IV by just seven euros, we need a sanction-free and needs-covering minimum income that protects against financial crashes, and a poverty-proof basic security for children.
- Ten million employees work for less than 12 euros an hour, four million people for low wages. Therefore, collective bargaining coverage must be strengthened and the statutory minimum wage increased to at least 12 euros. We need labor market reforms to end the abuse of service contracts, agency work and collective bargaining.
- We want to strengthen the statutory pension and introduce a pension fund for all people with an income. Members of the Bundestag should go ahead and pay into the statutory pension.
- In health and care, we want to move on to the principle of citizens' insurance. Jens Spahn has to present a nursing reform in order to regulate the assumption of costs in the nursing homes and to enforce a significantly better pay for the staff in nursing and health.
- Ten billion euros for a public housing program for a new start in social, non-profit and municipal housing construction!
3. Who pays the bill? The parliamentary group DIE LINKE in the Bundestag calls for the super-rich to be used to finance the crisis and for low-wage earners and the middle class to be protected from the costs of the crisis.
According to the Federal Government's response to our request, the corona crisis will cost at least 1.2 trillion euros. So far, the coalition has not taken care of the counter-financing. Voters are threatened with the corona bill being presented to them after the federal election. For us it is clear: This crisis must not be paid for by the "normal" people again - as with the financial crisis. We need a fair equalization of burdens, as the Basic Law provides for such cases.
- We want to introduce a one-time wealth tax for multimillionaires and billionaires. Now the solidarity of those who are doing very well is required. After the crisis, a major tax reform is needed that relieves the burden on low-income earners and the middle.
- We want a progressive wealth tax for multimillionaires and billionaires, which brings in around 100 billion euros a year and enables long-term future investments in education, the welfare state, the energy transition and infrastructure.
- At EU level too, we need a levy on the assets of multimillionaires and billionaires in order to be able to refinance the funds from the reconstruction fund. For us, the following applies: Neither the German saleswoman nor the Italian nurse should pay for this crisis.
4. Money for schools instead of tanks: the DIE LINKE parliamentary group. is committed to building one of the best and most socially fair school and daycare systems in the world by 2025. We want to overturn NATO's two percent armament target and invest ten billion euros annually from the savings in an education offensive.
Children, young people and families were criminally neglected by the federal government during the crisis. The Union Prime Ministers preferred to deal with their chancellor dreams rather than the prospects of children. In the economic stimulus package, the federal government provides more funds for armaments than for schools and families. For months, working parents had to labor from day to day to be there for their children.
- Accordingly, we are calling for an investment program to equip the facilities for early childhood education, upbringing and care for pandemics so that these important offers are reliably available to children and families.
- Fighting social inequality: We need digital learning for everyone, new computers and learning software to be publicly funded on a permanent basis - every student and every teacher have their own digital device!
- Need-covering BAföG instead of social division! The number of BAföG recipients is at eleven percent of students at an all-time low; only seven percent of all students receive the full BAföG rate. This means that working-class children can study less often. This is all the more true in the pandemic in which student part-time jobs have collapsed. The BAföG must be expanded in a crisis-proof manner and the group of recipients expanded.
5. Zero tolerance for hatred and agitation! We have to strengthen those who ensure cohesion in society.
Hate and agitation on social media and on the street are increasing. Often there are racist attacks on people with a migration background, sexist attacks and sexual violence against women and trans people. Employees in the public sector or, for example, Deutsche Bahn are also increasingly victims of physical violence. Right-wing extremist networks in the Bundeswehr and in parts of the police are undermining trust in the security authorities. All of this is unacceptable to us. For us, security does not end with the welfare state.
- We need a concrete agenda against racism, anti-Semitism and right-wing extremism in society, which actually improves the situation of those affected by racist, anti-Semitic and right-wing extremism.
- Therefore, the perspective of the attacked, traumatized and injured by everyday racist violence must be given a hearing.
- We demand that right-wing structures in the police and the security organs be mercilessly dismantled and independent complaints offices set up.
- We want a police force that is able to act and with more staff that is able to give people more security.
6. Future investments and climate policy must not be ignored.
The virus threatens to push the necessary socio-ecological change into the background. Instead of counteracting this, the federal government has rested on it. Climate protection does not begin with bulky terms, but in everyday life. During the crisis, the car experiences a renaissance in big cities too. We don't blame anyone for that. It shows the challenges Deutsche Bahn and local public transport are facing.
- We need billions to be invested in the socio-ecological restructuring of society and a courageous price cap for buses and trains. We want to make public transport unbeatably cheap, clean and safe.
- The transformation process in the company must be shaped socially and with the participation of the employees.
7. The DIE LINKE parliamentary group wants to cut the defense budget. High time for more international cooperation.
In March, five days before the lockdown, the federal government increased defense spending by six billion euros. The total of all armaments projects over the next few years will amount to 137 billion euros. This expenditure is not only irresponsible in terms of security policy, it is grotesque in view of the costs of dealing with the crisis.
We therefore demand:
- Disarmament instead of armament! We need every euro to save jobs and companies.
- End of the Bundeswehr's foreign missions.
- This crisis must not lead to “business as usual”. Germany was poorly prepared for the crisis and so lost valuable time. Masks and disinfectants were in short supply for weeks. The international crisis communication only worked to a limited extent and hardly helped with containment.
- We want international cooperation to be expanded and, at the same time, national protective mechanisms to be strengthened. The commitment and resources for WHO must be increased.
- The manufacture of protective equipment, drugs and medical devices must be withdrawn from globalization and understood as a national responsibility in the event of a crisis.
Our offer is called: socio-ecological policy change.
With these seven priorities for security and cohesion in times of crisis, we are entering the home straight of this legislative period. We continue to apply pressure so that we can get out of this crisis socially and in solidarity. 2021 will be a super election year with trend-setting decisions in the states of Baden-Württemberg, Rhineland-Palatinate, Thuringia, Saxony-Anhalt, Berlin and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. Our offer is a socio-ecological change of policy that stretches a protective screen over people's work and life and offers the country the future viability that is urgently needed.
Paper supported by the parliamentary group committee on the occasion of the parliamentary group meeting on 3rd / 4th September 2020 in Potsdam
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