Tank discount: failure with announcement | tagesschau.de


As of: 06/13/2022 4:37 p.m

The tank discount was and is sheer symbolic politics, says Lothar Lenz. The flagship project from the relief package failed with a bang and was announced. This is what happens when gifts of money are intended to replace concepts.

A comment by Lothar Lenz, ARD capital studio

There are laws that are outdated. There are also laws that are poorly made. What the traffic light coalition has done with the so-called tank discount in terms of political bungling is remarkable.

Millions of drivers are rubbing their eyes these days as soon as they approach a gas station: petrol and diesel are becoming more expensive instead of cheaper. Hadn’t the federal government promised the opposite? The hoped-for price advantage from the state discount on energy tax – where has it gone?

That’s not surprising. Before the coalition in Berlin put together its “relief package”, there were enough voices who had expressed serious doubts about the planned tank discount. In principle, it is nonsense to lower taxes on fossil fuels if you want people to drive sparingly and eventually switch to electric mobility.

But there were also reservations about the market economy: politics cannot set prices, companies do that. Because only a few corporations dominate the market in the fuel industry, the state can only ensure that competition works and prevent price fixing. But he hardly has the instruments for that. Petrol station prices are highly transparent today, no agreement is required, just a mobile app to monitor the prices of the competition and adjust your own in a matter of seconds.

Hoped for the good nature of the corporations

So it was politically and economically at least naïve when the traffic light based their tank discount on the fact that the good nature of Aral, Shell, Total and all the others is greater than their pursuit of profit. No one could seriously expect, and certainly not promise, that the mineral oil companies would pass on the tax gift one-to-one to motorists.

And the most annoying thing is that the federal government would have the means to actually and sustainably relieve commuters or commercial enterprises – for example with a higher mileage allowance. Yes, that would have taken longer than a tank discount – but it would have worked for that.

mobility problem remains

So the tank discount was and is purely symbolic politics. Less than two weeks after its introduction, the flagship project from the relief package failed with a bang and was announced. That’s how it is when gifts of money are supposed to replace political concepts: You don’t solve the mobility problem in Germany by luring people into buses and trains with a pocket money ticket for three months. And you don’t achieve a turnaround in traffic by calling for a tank discount that then fizzles out.

Now it’s crunching in the traffic light coalition. While the FDP is still defending “their” tank discount, the SPD and the Greens are trying to save what can be saved: Some are dreaming of driving bans again to curb the demand for petrol, for others an excess profit tax should bring the mineral oil companies to their senses. And Robert Habeck, otherwise a master of self-control, calls for antitrust law “with tooth and claw” and wants to break up corporations that earn a lot if necessary. If that’s not just symbolic politics again.

Editorial note

Comments always reflect the opinion of the respective author and not that of the editors.

Tank discount – a failure with an announcement

Lothar Lenz, ARD Berlin, June 13, 2022 at 4:14 p.m

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