North Rhine-Westphalia's social minister: "Let's not break that down again"

CDU politician Laumann supports Federal Social Minister Heil in the dispute over the basic pension. The concept is partly covered by the program of the Union.


Interview from Thomas Öchsner

Anyone who has paid 35 years in the pension fund, but still gets only a mini-pension and therefore currently has to ask the Social Security Office to increase, should in the future get a ground rent. This has proposed Federal Social Minister Hubertus Heil (SPD). But many in the Union, in the FDP and in the economy hold nothing of it. They are contradicted by Karl-Josef Laumann, Minister of Social Affairs in North Rhine-Westphalia and chairman of the CDU workers' wing.

SZ: Mr. Laumann, Heils Grundrente is heavily criticized. Is not she a good idea?

Karl-Josef-Laumann: I think that's a basis for discussing it. Salvation's concept coincides in part with the program of the Union. Also, we say, who got up 35 years in the morning, who deserves to get a premium on the pension, if the pension is not enough otherwise. We are for a premium of ten percent, then we move in such cases at about 900 euros. We are on the same level as salvation. Therefore, I appeal to all: Let us not break the project again, as was the case with former Labor Minister Ursula von der Leyen.

Who do you think if you are for a ground rent?

It's about rewarding life's achievement. For a worker, it is completely incomprehensible that someone who has worked for 35 years or more eventually ends up with a social welfare office – just like someone who has not hunched for 35 years. Sure, a savings bank director makes a lot and therefore receives a very good salary. But who gets up at five in the morning and cleans the Sparkasse, is also a performer in our society. These people also have to cope with old age – better than someone who did not get up so early in the morning.

However, the basic pension according to the ideas of Hubertus Heil leads to new injustices. The cleaner, who worked 34 years, runs out of white because she is missing a year. The medical assistant, who is married to an orthopedist, gets child-raising time for two children, and has worked 30 hours a day, 15 hours a week, in addition to receiving nearly 450 euros pension, even though her husband has the medical care in old age. Can that be right?

There are always breakages, somewhere you have to draw the line. That can be at 35 or even at 30 years. But what is missing in the concept of salvation is the means test. That is precisely why there are such injustices as in the case of the doctor-couple described by you. So I think we need to look at how current incomes are at retirement age. We can not spread the money with the watering can, which is not right for people who have to work hard to raise the taxes for a basic rent.

Work and Social How the SPD basic pension should work

How the SPD basic pension should work

"Disrespectful and unworthy" Hubertus Heil finds the previous pensions for former low-income earners. Answers to key questions about his proposal for a basic pension.By Kristiana Ludwig and Thomas Öchsner


The labor and social minister does not want a means test. Does not the argument attract you that it is shameful to have to lower your trousers in office?

You just have to do that in a way that is measured and not demeaning. Therefore, I am in favor of simplifying the complicated system of means testing and of appealing to people more.

What does that mean in concrete terms?

We should look at current income rather than wealth or property ownership. Think of the widow with a skinny pension who lives in the Eifel in a possibly 50-year-old house with a large plot of land. We can not expect him to take off at 75. Not everyone who owns a property lives in Munich and is a millionaire. Even what people are still allowed to keep their cash assets – up to 5,000 euros – has nothing to do with reality. If you have more, you will not get basic security. You may not even be able to pay all the burial costs. So we have to increase that.

Who should do the means test? The pension insurance I do not want to do that.

No. The pension insurance is not a social welfare office. The must work together with the social services, which should clarify as before, if one is in need. But in the end, the pension insurance pays the ground rent, because it is better for the people from the feeling.

And who should do that pay? Finance Minister Olaf Scholz expects due to the slower economic development anyway with five billion euros less Tax revenue per year.

The basic pension is to be financed by taxes. Everything else is a matter of priorities. As a social politician, I say clearly: The basic rent is more important than abolishing the solidarity surcharge. And if we agree on a new means test, that will cost much less than the billions in salvation. We have more than 500,000 recipients of basic insurance at retirement age. Only a part of them, especially in West Germany, has worked 35 years.

The employers' organizations still complain. They think the package is not financeable.

They should be a little more careful. After all, companies benefit from the huge low-wage sector that we have in Germany – with wages that lead to a pension that one can not live from in old age. Employers should also think about why, especially low earners with a gross earnings of less than 2,000 euros gross usually get no occupational pension.

Work and Social The ground rent is fair and good

The basic pension is fair and good

The concept of Hubertus Heil is an important, yes: a wonderful project. A means test would be pension contrary. It would turn millions of retirees into caregivers.Comment by Heribert Prantl


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