Berlin On the way to Jens Spahn, the past and the future of the CDU stand guard: along the long corridor in the House of Representatives of the German Bundestag, “Armin Laschet” is emblazoned on one room sign, and “Christina Stumpp” on another. The 61-year-old Laschet was briefly party leader and candidate for chancellor; 35-year-old Stumpp is the first deputy general secretary and takes care of the party base on behalf of the new CDU leader Friedrich Merz. And Jens Spahn?
The deputy parliamentary group leader has long since moved into his new office, and a triptych picture now hangs behind his desk. It shows a snowy winter landscape, as if someone wanted to hibernate here in order to blossom again next spring. The 42-year-old – once a candidate for the post of general secretary, then for the party chairmanship, most recently at least by the grace of Laschet CDU vice – wants to reinvent himself.
In the past few weeks, the former Federal Minister of Health has used every available platform to apologize for the misconduct during the corona crisis. He has his book “We will have to forgive each other a lot” with him, a sentence he said as minister at the beginning of the corona pandemic in 2020. He appeared on the NDR talk show, sat on red TV sofas or in Kurt Krömer’s RBB interrogation room.
The Munsterlander can even boast of being the protagonist of an RTL documentary series. For five years, the TV journalists accompanied Spahn again and again when he urged to conquer the party leadership.
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He has been a member of the Bundestag for almost half his life and has been described as a young politician for just as long. Spahn would not be himself if he gave up now. While other ministers of the last Merkel government had to resign for the third or fourth term, Spahn just managed to get into the CDU presidium.
The Basic Program Commission as a stepping stone
The Office secured him the chair of an important working group on the Policy Commission: “Prosperity – A life that offers us opportunities.” She has been concerned with defining wealth, measuring living standards, equity in the tax system and also looking at property formation. It was also about foreign trade and the relationship with China.
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The external advisors include Spahn Clemens Fuest, head of the Ifo Institute, the Catholic social and economic ethicist Elmar Nass and the family entrepreneur and Coroplast boss Natalie Mekelburger, as well as trade unionists and employer representatives. Next year the group wants to bundle their discussions and put them on paper. “We should supplement the old promise of ‘prosperity for all’ with ‘property for all’,” says Spahn.
It is about nothing less than a new promise of prosperity. Ludwig Erhard called it “prosperity for all” after the Second World War, and “blossoming landscapes” were to exist after reunification under Helmut Kohl. And party leader Merz wants to redeem an open flank, a “last big promise”: the participation of employees in productive capital.
We should supplement the old promise of ‘prosperity for all’ with ‘property for all’. Jens Spahn
Spahn himself had paraphrased the promise of welfare in his application speech for party chairmanship in 2018: “We don’t care.” Achievement must be worthwhile, and wealth must also be distributed. He puts it this way: “Property for all” is an old promise of Catholic social teaching. To this day it has not been redeemed.
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Qua office, Spahn takes care of the central question of these days: How do we secure our prosperity? And as deputy chairman of the parliamentary group responsible for economic and energy policy, he can prominently present the knowledge gathered in the commission to the outside world – and thus recommend himself for further tasks.
For Jens Spahn, prosperity includes “things with which you have stability and can survive times of crisis”. Whether Corona or the energy crisis: “Many do not have the cushion at all to survive such a time.” It’s about economic prosperity. Everyone should be able to live their own way. But whether health and happiness are a direct part of it? Not for Span. “Then at some point the state will define what a good life is. It’s a very wrong path.”
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During the talk with Kurt Krömer, Spahn explained the matter of his own prosperity something like this: He bought a small apartment in Berlin and lived in it. It went up in value, he sold it, bought a new one. Today he and his husband can call a villa for around four million euros their own.
Spahn wants to focus on economic policy
But it’s not quite as easy for most people as it was with Spahn, as they fail because of the start-up capital. Spahn did not manage to explain transparently why he had to buy a villa during the corona crisis and where all that money came from. “I didn’t do everything right,” he says today.
This includes the many mistakes in the vaccination campaign, through to dubious mask deals that cost taxpayers dearly, while a number of suppliers are still waiting for their money today.
The trained banker and former State Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Finance wants to leave all that behind and now concentrate on economic policy. After all, he was a welcome member of the Mittelstandsunion for a long time. As Minister of Health, however, he fell out of favor with quite a few, for he was for them too much a social politician, who above all spent a lot of money.
Spahn points out that he would have been only too happy to set up a debt fund and use the profit margins from it to stabilize the contribution rates in long-term care insurance, for example. As a minister, he had an expert opinion drawn up on the project, but he has not published it again. “This would be a way in which low-income earners can also benefit indirectly from capital market developments worldwide.” He also sympathizes with a real share pension. Above all, however, the motto must apply: anyone who works must be able to afford a house.
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