for taxation in favor of people, the planet and democracy

Groucho Marx said that politics is the art of looking for problems, finding them, making a false diagnosis and then applying the wrong remedies. Unfortunately, this is the reality in which a part of the Spanish political class lives irresponsibly thrown into the mountain of distraction and polarization. They would have done well to have assumed the ethical code that proposed by the schoolchildren of Pamplona and stop digging the pit of political disaffection.

But reality is stubborn and tells us about drought and fires, difficulties in paying electricity and rent, health and education problems and the inequalities of the economic monopoly that is doing so much damage to all of us. And among all of them, the Opinion Barometer of the Center for Sociological Research (CIS) in March placed climate change and the environment as two of the main problems for Spaniards, even above pensions, mortgages, the pandemic or racism. .

It is highly symbolic that this time the electoral race began on May 12, the same day we entered ecological debt, having exhausted all the resources that correspond to us as a country. There are many physical signs, alerted by science, of a sick planet, whose health is the health of all people and future generations. The political framework should not be whether or not to accept this reality – that is where fossil retardism wants to situate us -, but that of an upward competition to put into practice urgently and without distraction the best solutions possible. And finance them…

Pedro Sánchez wanted to campaign showing file facing the obstacle course (drought, inflation, pandemic…) taking advantage of the possibilities of the largest budget of the history of democracy approved in 2022, reinforced by the collection and European funds, which have even allowed some more joy to the electoral heat in areas such as housing and youth. Others follow him, each one at his own level, inaugurating squares, bike lanes, cutting ribbons in a carousel of initiatives and announcements that the polls will judge. Beyond the cloud of electoral promises and their repercussions on the public budget, we must not forget that life goes on and health centers, teachers’ salaries, garbage trucks, fire services and social action will need financing. And of course, also the response to the climate emergency.

However, worrying winds of austerity are coming from Brussels. In other words, recovering once again the old story that once this exceptional time has been overcome, the suspension of the Stability and Growth Pact and, once again putting aside the fair and green tax reform, it is time to return to the bitter rigor of the fiscal consolidation. It is at this point that the more or less virtuous intersection of electoral promises and citizen needs will come up against the worrying corset of European fiscal rules. The legal proposal made by the Commission for a new European economic governance will hinder the ability of public administrations to respond to the ecological and inequality crisis in the coming years. Let us remember how recently some administrations implored that the expenses of the fight against the drought not be computed as a public deficit from 2024. With the current fiscal rules, the climate exception has no place.

Latest study of the New Economics Foundation in Germany noted that the rules proposed by the Commission would cause all but four EU countries to miss climate and energy targets. According to the European Foundation for Progressive Studies, linked to the European Social Democrats (FEPSfor its acronym in English), there is a need for investments to not exceed 1.5 ºC of the Paris Agreement of between 11 and 16 trillion euros between 2020 and 2050, that is, between 14 and 21 times the European Next Generation .

The valuation of Greenpeace is that the legal proposal made by the Commission is not coherent with the Paris Agreement, nor with the Convention on Biological Diversity, nor with the European Social Charter and opens the door to greater disaffection with the European project, with the European elections just around the corner. The proposal ignores the fiscal holes of the continent – where the Ferroviales on duty escape -, turns a blind eye to the misuse of public resources in subsidies and fossil infrastructure or in an opportunistic military career and does not demand green budgets and priority investments and reforms in resilience and well-being that comply with the principle of not causing harm to the environment.

Between the German austericidal immobility and the lack of ambition of the Commission’s current proposal, backed by the Spanish Government, we are risking the reality of the political framework of the coming years, once this year’s electoral cycle has passed. And if the German position would take us back to the years of the cuts, that of the Spanish Government does not live up to its social and environmental creed.

If we have learned anything in this time of polycrisis, and especially during the pandemic, it is that this is not the time for public powers to stand up and let market forces solve deep and long-term problems on their own, such as the drought, fires, housing, mobility in cities or public health. But the commitment to a reinforced role for public administrations cannot be a blank check for waste, inertia and eccentricities of indiscriminate growth -as we saw in the real estate bubble and with some of the Next Generation projects-. Between austerity and the expense and the growth harmful – a debate these days in the European parliament – there is a fertile space to invest with co-responsibility in new socio-economic models of well-being and resilience.

It is a crucial debate that hovers above the electoral noise and this is how the mixed commission of Congress and the Senate must understand it in its presentation on the priorities for the Spanish Presidency of the Council of the EU. Civil society is clear about this, as shown in the carta sent in March to the President of the government asking for a reform with ambition so that we have a European economic governance free of fossil fuels, tax havens and men in black.

Angela Davis said: “I’m not accepting the things I can’t change, I’m changing the things I can’t accept”. It is the moment of responsibility and not of retardism, frivolities and the posturing of plants on the balcony, bike lanes, legalization of wells, extensions of ski resorts or more Christmas lights. It’s time to be able to boost proposals at the height of the urgency of this time in favor of people, the planet and democracy. It is the moment in which we are playing the present and the future. And that is why we urgently need more fiscal responsibility.

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