Saturday, July 11, 2020

Minister of Labor Hubertus Heil in an interview about Corona and the SPD

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Mr. Heil, politics is currently financing the social peace in the country with enormous sums – rescue packages, supplementary budgets, generous promises. Nevertheless, new demands from associations are added almost daily. How long can the government keep this up and, above all, who should pay for it?

The current situation in our country due to the corona virus challenges everyone. The priority in the first phase was therefore to protect the health of the population. Of course that will keep us busy. At the same time, we take care to cushion the economic and social consequences. Economically, we are looking into a deep valley, worldwide. In the United States, for example, over 33 million jobs have disappeared. In Germany, we build bridges with short-time allowance and are currently securing millions of jobs. This is not money that we shoot out with the confetti cannon, but it helps keep people at work. Short-time work is expensive, but: unemployment is significantly more expensive.

But you can only keep it up if the state doesn’t run out of steam …

That’s true. That is why we have adopted various measures and aid packages to stabilize the economy. When I look at the past few months, I can only say that we can be compared internationally. Other countries would like the opportunities and tools we have. But it is also correct that nothing is infinite, also financially. Because we also need funds to get the economy going again and secure apprenticeships.

Do you still feel like the master of the situation? Or could the comprehensive lockdown of business and society prove to be a fatal mistake?

Nobody has a blueprint for this situation. It is the greatest economic and social challenge of our generation. You now have to be careful about attributing all of the economic consequences to the lockdown. We have no production facilities closed like France or Spain. We had sales difficulties and bottlenecks due to interrupted supply chains, but production was not fundamentally prohibited. In other areas, there have been and still are drastic restrictions, for example in hotels and restaurants or in the cultural sector. There are now first easing. I find our actions in the crisis to be gripping and we made decisions with a sense of proportion.

Don’t you have sleepless nights? Do you like crises?

Nobody wants such crises. But what is shown is the character and the attitude to take responsibility. And don’t let yourself get nervous. Then I try to align my work.

Now we’re almost talking about it SPD. Many say in polls that voters are very satisfied with the work of the Social Democrats in the government. The SPD seems to be systemically important for them. Nevertheless, the reputation of the party has hardly risen, but that of the CDU has been rising rapidly. How do you explain that?

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