Split the difference15 Dec 2003
I'm up early, but the politicians are just going to bed. At 3 am the government and the opposition announced an agreement on tax cuts, unemployment and welfare reform, subsidy cuts, flexilbility in the job market, Agenda 2010 and just about everything else that Schröder wanted but was being blocked by the Bundesrat. It took the big guns to get it done... Schröder, Merkel, Fischer, and Stoiber all appeared at the marathon conference committee meeting (oh, and Westerwelle too).
The result was to split everything down the middle. The tax cut for 2004 is half of what Schröder wanted, financed only 25% by borrowing. The subsidies for commuters and home owners will be cut by 30%. Protection against dismissal applies now to firms with 10 or more employees instead of 5. Local governments will have the option to manage long-term unemployed. Local governments get a bigger slice of business taxes. The question of exemptions to national union contracts was postponed.
Everyone got only half of what they wanted, but at least they got something, which is more than one can say about the EU summit in Brussels the day before.