In the maneuver «politics» announced by the government there is only one significant choice in itself and not only as an indication, precisely a political one, of the government’s future projects: the dismantling of the citizen’s income. The two measures announced by Giorgia Meloniexclusion of the “employable” from the audience of those entitled from 1 January 2024 but reduction of the checks to only 8 months already in 2023 and the obligation to accept the first “appropriate” job offer, under penalty of also losing of Citizenship Incomedoes not limit itself to restricting the number of those who can access the RDC: it reverses its sign, changes the logic that inspired it into its opposite.
Since just as the ax fell in Italy income tax in Germany the parliamentary clash raged over the German version of the same law it is useful to compare the two provisions and their logic. In Germany, the Harz IV social assistance system has been in operation for 18 years. The government Scholz he has proposed a reform that aims to widen it, not restrict it. The Bundestag approved the new system, renamed “Burgergeld” on November 10 but the chamber of the Lander, the Bundesrat, threatened to block it since the majority there is of the Cdu, opposed to the reform. In these cases in Germany a committee is formed on the spot in charge of setting up a mediation. The compromise was found two days ago. The Bundesrat has yet to vote but, having signed the agreement with the CDU, there are no doubts about the outcome of the vote. Scholz’s law it has been made much more restrictive without however affecting its logic as has instead happened with us.
The proposal approved by Bundestag provided for an increase of approximately 50 euros in the fixed subsidy from the Harz IV, from 449 to 502 euros per month. For cohabiting adults, the subsidy is 451 euros, for young people aged 14 and over it is 420 euros, for children aged 6 to 14 it is 348 euros, which drops to 318 under 6 years. In addition, the State had to cover the rent and gas costs for 2 years. The agreement with the Cdu confirmed the increase but halved the times of support for rent and gas, from 2 to one year. The law in its original version allowed the recipients to have savings of up to 60 thousand euros, while the compromise with the Cdu brought them to 30 thousand.
The essential chapters, however, are others. Scholz’s law put the search for a job in the background in favor of qualified learning and dismantled the very stringent system of controls and penalties established by Harz IV to force the unemployed to look for any job. It is on this point that the cdu really fought, contesting the classic argument that in this way the unemployed were not encouraged to look for a job. The outcome of the mediation allows everyone to claim victory but in reality it doesn’t damage the basic setting of the reform too much.
The reduction, not the elimination of the subsidy, will be triggered only if the income recipient refuses the post “agreed with the Employment Centers” whose official mission however is no longer to identify any job but “professional retraining” which should allow access only to decent and decently paid jobs. At this point the law will have to be voted on again by the Bundestag and then by the Bundesrat but there don’t seem to be any other obstacles.
Albeit diluted by mediation with the cdu, the basic approach of the law remains clear: to put unemployed workers in the position of not having to accept any job that is offered. And in Italy? The logic of the Meloni government is diametrically opposite: the subsidy will only be paid to those who are not in a position to work instead of to everyone. The income thus officially becomes a “charity income” a kind of minimum pension paid regardless of age to those who cannot earn a living by working.
The obligation to accept the first job offer produces the opposite effect to that intended Germany and which also inspired the Italian law, despite its undeniable limitations: it forces the worker to accept the employer’s conditions. The income objectively needed to be reviewed. The decision to combine basic income and job search created the same contradictions which the Bugergeld. The conditions of the German public finances are certainly not the Italian ones and the scourge of undeclared work is certainly not as widespread in Germany as it is in Italy. But these are alibis: the sense of the reform of the rc is political, it does not only respond to cash issues. And it aims to make the poor even weaker.