There was a time when socialists little suspicious of sovereignist whims like Carlos Solchaga or Josep Borrell left the door open to making the autonomies co-responsible for tax collection. The central government appeared as the collector, always an ungrateful figure, while the regional executives only had to deal with spending and reaching out. But Felipe González was not one of those, until he needed the votes of the CiU to govern and Jordi Pujol demanded 15% of personal income tax in return. The transfer was executed with the rejection of Ibarra and Chaves, socialist barons of Extremadura and Andalusia, on the grounds that inequalities would increase. Also with the opposition of the PP for giving in to nationalist “blackmail”. Aznar was against it until he needed Pujol’s support to govern… and he gave up 30%. Extremadura, Andalusia and Castilla-La Mancha, all from the PSOE, criticized him. The socialist Magdalena Álvarez complained that this transfer “gives Catalonia 72,000 million more than Andalusia”.
There was a time when, faced with Catalonia’s complaints about regional financing, the PP replied that taxes are not paid by the territories, but by the people. Now, the popular raise the taifas to the maximum fiscal expression, embracing with the fervor of the convert the “healthy” competition between autonomies. Meanwhile, the Government of Pedro Sánchez and even his pro-independence and nationalist partners talk with small mouths of harmonizing some tax to avoid the dumping of Madrid, which lowers them thanks to the doping of being the capital. They comment on it bajini , since they cannot defend fiscal centralization. If the ability to set some taxes is removed from the regional system, it becomes mere administrative decentralization.
And there was a time when only IU or Podemos advocated milking the udders of big capital more, appealing to fight against the “powerful”, while the PSOE preferred a less inflamed rhetoric, which was limited to promising attention to those who they need it. This too has changed.
The tax collection that is talked about so much does not go far, but it does help build a political discourse
Why do we talk about taxes these days? Is a thorough reform of taxation imminent? Absolutely. It is still the pending subject. But the electoral machinery has been set in motion. The collection of taxes that are being discussed these days is not going to revolutionize the welfare state, but it is enough to build a political discourse.
The PSOE had always opened the channel when the tax debate was addressed
The PP opened the game after the debate on energy between Sánchez and Alberto Núñez Feijóo in the Senate, in which the former thrashed the popular party. Although the polls smile at him, Feijóo needs to build an alternative discourse that goes beyond criticizing Sánchez’s alliances with “separatists and ETA supporters.” The economy is an asset in which the PP trusts in contexts of crisis and in that field it seeks to fight through like-minded barons, such as the Andalusian Juanma Moreno. The message: only the PP lowers taxes against a PSOE that likes to rummage through other people’s pockets. The objective: to fish among lukewarm socialist voters and cause division in the Government and the PSOE. The fiscal debate has always opened the channel to the socialists.
Sánchez does not talk so much about helping the poor or the vulnerable, but rather the middle and working class.
But the barons have been silent and Sánchez has taken the opportunity to rescue the United We Can proposal to create a tax on large fortunes that allows him to pay his new creed: to set himself up as the Robin Hood of “the working middle class.” Note that he does not speak of rescuing the poor, the vulnerable, or the most needy. Who does not feel middle class, worker or aspires to be? The new tax also greases the difficult relationship with the UP and its parliamentary allies.
Catalonia, which once led the debates on financing and taxes, is limited to responding to the provocative siren songs of the Andalusian president so that the Catalans with potential move to their land with a “get your hands out of Catalonia now”, solemn but little concrete. Although the Government will have the opportunity to set a position on taxes in the imminent budget discussion.
JxCat and ERC
Together, but getting worse
It is unlikely that Junts and ERC will arrive together in the Government until the end of the legislature, in 2015. But the rupture, which seemed imminent a few weeks ago, seems to be delayed, except for surprises in the general policy debate next week . That does not mean that the relationship improves. On the contrary, it is going to get worse, since Junts plans to mark more of its own profile in the coming months. So we can find that Junts ministers propose initiatives that ERC has no idea about, and vice versa. At the moment, rather than being in discussion whether the Government will break up, what remains to be known is rather when: before or after the municipal elections in May.
Doubts about the Penal Code and sedition
The reform of the Penal Code to lower the punishment for sedition continues to be a thorny issue on which Pedro Sánchez has not yet made a final decision. The president is in favor of this measure and considers that the penalties for this crime should be homologated to those of other countries in the European environment. Coming back from summer vacation he seemed inclined to face that issue. But in Moncloa there are doubts about it. Choosing the right moment, the difficulty of having the necessary support to approve the reform and the electoral calendar for the next year and a half complicate the decision to be adopted, so in Moncloa they continue to weigh whether to undertake it or not.
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The Robin Hoods of the middle class, by Lola García
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