July 2012, Week 2


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Wed, 11 Jul 2012 23:01:07 -0400
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The Euro Crisis and the European Fiscal Pact

Sahra Wagenknecht
The   B u l l e t

Socialist Project
E-Bulletin No. 663
July 11, 2012

The following Bullet is from an important speech by Sahra
Wagenknecht [translated by Samuel Putinja], newly elected
co-vice president and important theoretician of the German
radical party Die Linke, during the June 29, 2012
Bundestag debate on the European Stability Mechanism (ESM)
rescue package and the European Fiscal Pact.

At a late hour on Friday 29 June 2012, the Bundestag took
two far-reaching decisions. The so-called European
Stability Mechanism (ESM), better known as the bailout
fund, as well as the Fiscal Pact, a treaty modelled on the
socially regressive German "debt brake" law and a
blueprint for social service and public sector cutbacks in
Europe, were up for vote. 491 Bundestag members voted for
the ESM, 111 voted against it, and 6 members abstained.
493 members voted for the Fiscal Pact, 106 voted against
it, and 5 abstained. Only the Bundestag members of the Die
Linke party voted unanimously against these anti-social
legislative packages.

Because the Fiscal Pact is irrevocable and compels
governments to implement a harsh policy of savings, these
decisions set the course in Europe toward permanent
reductions in social spending that will undoubtedly result
in cutbacks to public services and the privatization of
public property. At the same time, the ESM will make
available massive amounts of money to safeguard the
interests of banks and the wealthy. In her speech in the
plenum Sahra Wagenknecht assailed the federal government
for a policy that is driving all of Europe into ruin, and
she directly addressed the Chancellor: "You are not saving
the euro, but rather you are saving the euros of the

"This is a cold putsch against the constitution"

Mr. President! Dear colleagues!

"Billions in taxes have disappeared. The one who bore
responsibility was revealed to be a marionette. The part
of the puppet master was performed by just that type of
manager, who recently promised reform: an investment

What the Handelsblatt wrote about the nationalization of
the energy provider EnBW, unfortunately also applies to
the European policies of this government: You are behaving
like marionettes. The puppet masters are the bankers, and
the result has been treaties in which citizens are
short-changed in order to rescue the fortunes of the
richest and to keep the financial market casino rolling
along. It is telling that the stock markets reacted to
yesterday's summit decisions with a display of fireworks.

Speech presented by Sahra Wagenknecht in the Bundestag, 29
June 2012.

[Applause from Die Linke.]

Europe, may I remind, was once supposed to be a project
for peace, democracy and social welfare, a lesson from the
centuries of brutal war and a conscious alternative to the
crude capitalism that brought forth the global economic
crisis and the bloody fascist dictatorships.

[Heckling from the FDP: Don't forget the communists!]

"To be true to its heirs, Europe must embody a new
humanism as a stronghold of human dignity and social
justice." Richard von Weizsaecker once said this.

[Applause from Die Linke.]

The Europe of today that you now want to set the seal on
with the second giant bank rescue package and fiscal pact
is the exact opposite of this. This Europe is a project
for the destruction of democracy and social justice...

[Applause from the Die Linke.]

A project for the smashing of employee rights and a
project for the reduction of wages and pensions. It is a
project by Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley
for the plundering of European taxpayers.

You are all collectively responsible that it could come to
this. You, Ms Merkel, and your black-yellow coalition
(CDU-CSU/FDP), for whom obviously no other values any
longer exist except those traded on the financial markets
and appraised by the ratings agencies. But also you,
ladies and gentlemen of the purported opposition from the
SPD and Greens, who to be sure, gladly play yourselves up
in front of the cameras as critics of the government, but
who up to now approved almost every European policy
outrage of this government, just as you plan to again

[Applause from Die Linke.]

"Please tell me not everything I've learned was in vain,"
a young woman recently wrote me,...

[Heckling from Johannes Kahrs (SPD): Your speech says it!]

who out of enthusiasm for Europe and the European idea
spent a year volunteering in Greece and is now returning
to Germany. She is appalled by the Greece-bashing, but
above all she fears for a country, in which over half of
the people her age have no job and no prospects, in which
pregnant women are turned away from delivery wards if they
have no cash, in which retirees grow zucchinis on their
balconies because their pensions no longer suffice to
provide enough to eat. In the middle of Europe! Yes,
Greece had serious homemade problems. But the social
catastrophe that Greece is suffering through today is not
homemade. It is the result of your policies.

[Applause from Die Linke.]

Stop at long last obscuring reality with lies! You tell us
we have a public debt crisis. In fact it is the banking
crisis which is driving state debt ever higher, because,
on the one hand, you deploy rescue packages worth billions
and erect giant firewalls, and because, on the other hand,
you do not do anything to extinguish the actual source of
the fire. This remains the much too extensively
deregulated financial sector, which unchanged, with
reckless gambling, again and again produces huge losses.

[Applause from Die Linke.]

You tell us the crisis in the Southern countries is due to
a lack of competitiveness. Spanish industry today actually
produces 30 per cent less than in 2008. However between
2008 and now Spanish unit labour costs declined by 9 per
cent. It cannot then be due to this. It is because banks
in Spain are ailing and no longer provide the real economy
with credit. It is further due to the fact that for years
now a brutal programme of cutbacks has been underway in
Spain that's taking the breathing air out of the economy.
We have already experienced exactly the same thing in

[Applause from Die Linke.]

Now, with the fiscal pact, this catastrophic programme is
to be extended to all of Europe? Do you want to have Greek
conditions also in Germany someday? This is madness, Ms

[Applause from Die Linke.]

Let's have a look at the numbers. If the fiscal pact is
adhered to, in the coming years European states will have
to hack over 2000-billion euros out of their budgets, from
healthcare, from social services, from education and from
pensions. What then will remain of Europe? Mr. Gabriel
(SPD), to now claim, that it will be counterbalanced at
the EU level by the extra 10-billion euros for the
European Investment Bank and the reallocation of some
monies: do you not make yourself laughable?

[Applause from Die Linke.]

Whoever wants growth and prosperity in Europe must stop
the unspeakable fiscal pact with its dictates for billions
in cutbacks. Anyone who doesn't do this is pretending. I
say this to you quite clearly.

[Applause from Die Linke.]

There is much to suggest that the planned financial
transaction tax will be a sham. Even so, Mr. Schaeuble
expects revenue of not more than 2-billion euros. Just
have a look at what the turnover is on the derivative
markets. A proper tax would have to generate considerably

Ms. Merkel, I also say to you: If you drive European
states further into crisis with brutal programmes of
cutbacks instead of finally making them independent from
the usury of the financial markets, with direct credit
from the European Central Bank, then you will not go into
history as the Iron Chancellor, but instead as the
grave-digger of the euro.

[Applause from Die Linke.]

You tell us the fiscal pact will be there to reduce debts.
Even this is untrue. If you want to contain the explosion
of debt then you must finally stop pumping further
billions into the financial sector. But you do not intend
that, because parallel to this European austerity pact,
the Bundestag today will approve the next grave, billions
of euros deep, namely the ESM.

You recently approved a supplementary budget in which
8-billion euros were provided to afford the first transfer
toward the large new bank rescue package. I wouldn't like
to calculate for you how you could improve the living
situation and educational opportunities for children from
Hartz-IV families with this 8-billion. Take a look at the
situation in German councils, cities and towns. Libraries,
swimming pools and elementary schools are being closed due
to sums that in comparison to this 8-billion are laughably
small. Local authorities have been without money for
years. For children you have no money. But you obviously
have endless billions to rescue the banks. At least stop
speaking about saving! You are not at all saving. You are
squandering billions.

[Applause from Die Linke.]

You take from one and give to the other. I do not call
this saving, but redistribution.

Who actually profits from this redistribution can be seen
clearly in Greece. At the start of its supposed rescue,
Greece had a debt of 300-billion euros that was held by
banks, hedge funds and wealthy private investors. Greece
now has a debt of 360-billion euros, 300-billion of which
is now the liability of European taxpayers. Incidentally,
this example also shows what happened with the alleged aid
money. It does not go to Greek pensioners but rather to
the European financial mafia.

Spain is now supposed to receive up to 100-billion euros
for its banks. Even this money will not stay in Spain.
Deutsche Bank itself has 14-billion euros at stake in
Spain. It is naturally delighted that the German taxpayer
once again obediently transfers it over.

Mr. Bruederle, you just popularly boasted here that Grandma
should not be held liable for the investment bankers with
her savings account. If you take that seriously, then you
and your party must unanimously vote against the ESM,...

[Applause from Die Linke.]

because it represents just what you said, that pensioners,
workers and the unemployed must pay for the gambling of
the investment banks.

[Heckling from Rainer Bruederle (FDP): Greetings from

Whoever exposes taxpayers to such risks - we are talking
here about two gigantic rescue packages with a liability
for Germany of 300-billion, eventually of 400-billion
euros - whoever promotes such risks should turn red-faced
when they speak of budget consolidation. Take your own
sworn principle of liability seriously for once: He who
benefits should also bear the loss. Who benefitted? It is
not a coincidence that parallel to state debts, the
private fortunes of the richest ten thousand Europeans
continuously reach new records. Retrieve the money from
there. The billions we are lacking are there. You can get
it from there, without the fiscal pact and without the
destruction of democracy.

[Applause from Die Linke.]

However, you are doing the opposite. You are socializing
the debts precisely so the financial wealth of the rich
does not depreciate. To collect the necessary sums the
budget sovereignty of states will now be superseded in
favour of a Brussels Eurocracy, because naturally, it can
cut more ruthlessly. This is the truth of the matter. This
is the core of your policies. You are not saving the euro,
but rather you are saving the euros of the millionaires.

[Applause from Die Linke.]

At least then be so honest and tell the citizens this.
Tell them that the socially conscious federal state, as
stipulated by the constitution, finished itself off with
the proposed treaties. Tell them that in the future even
in Germany they can elect a parliament that will not have
much to say, because Germany will also belong to those
nations whose state indebtedness will extent beyond what
the fiscal pact requires. Tell the people that this is a
cold putsch against the constitution.

[Applause from Die Linke.]

Dear colleagues from the CDU and CSU, in the postwar
period your parties had the slogan, "Prosperity for
Everyone" written on their banners. Now you are destroying
the prosperity of millions.

[Heckling from Rainer Bruederle (FDP): Long live

You are taking bread from the poor...

[Calls from the CDU/CSU and the FDP: Oh!]

because you are too cowardly to take money from the rich.
Do you consider that to be Christian?

[Applause from Die Linke.]

Dear colleagues from the FDP. That a state socializes
private losses only when those affected are rich and
powerful enough, is anything but liberalism. Do you really
want to advocate this?

Dear colleagues from the SPD, you have the words "social"
and "democracy" in your party name. You have sinned
against this claim often enough in the past years: with
Agenda 2010, with the deregulation of financial markets,
with Hartz-IV and with the destruction of statutory
retirement. If however, one approves these adherence
treaties, with which the welfare state and democracy in
Europe are finally pushed into the grave, this means
equipping the Agenda policies in Germany with a guarantee
of perpetuity.

[Applause from Die Linke.]

I must ask you: For this bowl of lentil stew, is it really
worth slapping, as it were, your voters one more time in
the face, in order to be allowed after the next election
once again to join as the junior partner in a grand

[Applause from Die Linke, Heckling from Johannes Kahrs
(SPD): Did Oskar write the speech?]

Dear colleagues, you were elected according to our
constitution. If you still have a conscience - as
democrats and as Europeans - then I ask you to follow this
conscience and vote no today.


[Sustained applause from Die Linke - Heckling by Hubertus
Heil (SPD): You cannot deny someone a conscience just
because you have another opinion!] *

(((( The   B u l l e t ))))
* ISSN 1923-7871 *	Next "


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