Livni, Peretz present 'revolutionary' economic plan

In response to "Latet" poverty report, Livni Party suggests differential Value Added Tax.

Tzipi Livni, Amir Peretz 'Hatnua' 390 (photo credit: LAHAV HARKOV)
Tzipi Livni, Amir Peretz 'Hatnua' 390
(photo credit: LAHAV HARKOV)
The Tzipi Livni Party presented an economic plan meant to be a middle ground between the Likud and Labor on Monday, following a negative report on poverty in Israel by NGO Latet.
“We oppose a wild open market where this government feels it's responsible for everything, but won’t wave the red flag of monopolies and too much government involvement like Labor suggests,” Livni stated.
Speaking at a press conference at her party’s headquarters in Tel Aviv, in a hall that had eight photos of her hanging on its walls, Livni mentioned her past in the Likud. She described Likud ideological forebearer Ze’ev Jabotinsky’s philosophy of government responsibility for housing, medicine, housing, food and education.
“I grew up in a party that embraced those who didn’t have much with dignity and a desire to make changes,” she said of the Likud. “Only a new order of priorities will bring the necessary change.”
“Equality in the burden of service and bringing everyone into the workforce will give the government enough funds to help the weak.”
One change Livni mentioned is a law that details the government’s responsibility to citizens, describing what is universal and what is differential, according to income and other parameters.
Livni singled out settlements as a political interest that “sucks up funds,” calling for the government to stop investing in those who “don’t want peace.”
Livni and Amir Peretz, who is third on the party’s list, did not directly address their very divergent opinions on economic matters, instead focusing on what they have in common.
“I don’t come from a Jabotinsky household, but the public should realize what [first Likud prime minister Menachem] Begin did for poor families,” Peretz said. “He also made peace with Egypt. That is why we are calling on Likudniks to vote for us.”
Peretz called for differential VAT, which would consist of a lower rate for necessities and inexpensive items, and a higher rate for luxury purchases.
“There would be 10 percent VAT on a Subaru, 20% on a Mercedes,” he explained.
The former Labor leader announced that The Tzipi Livni Party is working on a “revolutionary and all-inclusive” economic plan, which would include housing, welfare, pensions, and college tuition.
Peretz emphasized several times that his plan would include the sources of funding for the policies, a dig at Labor leader Shelly Yacimovich, who was criticized for not doing so.
“Every poverty report is a major blow,” he added.
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“Couples work hard and still can’t meet the needs of their household. Parents should be able to pay for their children to do after-school activities and for their family to use hospitals. We cannot become a third world country.”
Earlier on Monday, Labor leader Shelly Yacimovich said Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu must deal with the nation’s poverty, calling him “blind and indifferent.”
“Poverty isn’t a problem that can be taken care of with one plan or a spin. It is a direct result of an economic policy that is meant to crumble Israeli society, smashes the middle class and drives the poor to dark places in which their children have to work, like in third world countries,” she stated.
Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett called for haredim to be taken out of poverty by enlisting in the IDF and joining the workforce gradually.
“Poverty is common in the haredi and Arab communities at rates of 55% and 53% respectively,” Bennett explained. “The main reason is because of low employment rates of haredi men and Arab women. Increasing employment for these two populations, and giving them tools to do so, is a top social and economic interest.”
Dr. Adi Kol, ninth on the Yesh Atid list, said that “poverty in Israel is a social ticking time bomb that can explode and tear apart the nation.”
“Israeli children are starving and have to work to support their families, and the government does nothing,” she added.