Labor MKs rip Netanyahu's plan for healing the economy

MK Ophir Paz-Pines: This plan mocks the public's intelligence and is a false presentation.

Steinitz got milk 248 88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Steinitz got milk 248 88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Parliamentary attacks against the economic recovery plan unveiled Thursday morning by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz were not confined to the opposition, but also came from the split ranks of the Labor Party. "Since we are in the midst of a very serious crisis, of global dimensions, and we need and are also able to save the Israeli economy, our mission is two-fold: to preserve jobs and to jump-start the market," Netanyahu said while presenting the plan. "We have succeeded in doing this before and we will succeed in doing this again." Detractors said the plan did not take into consideration the state of the average citizen, and that it was all talk and very few real details. Labor Party "rebels" were among the most vocal critics. "Instead of a real emergency plan, Netanyahu and Steinitz are presenting a visionless plan strung together by words and hot air," Labor MK Ophir Paz-Pines said. "This plan mocks the public's intelligence and is a false presentation, meant to throw sand in the eyes of the public - both employers and employees." Paz-Pines went on to blast the very government in which his party is a member, adding, "The biggest and most wasteful government in the history of Israel has decided with chutzpa to reduce the health and education budgets and to freeze pay rates. Where is the personal example?" Of the 30 ministers and nine deputy ministers in the government, eight are Labor MKs. Paz-Pines was not the only lawmaker from his party to lash out against the program. Fellow rebel Shelly Yacimovich said, "The Netanyahu Plan that was presented today is empty of content and is made up of pronouncements. In reality, there is no progress on plans to save the economy from further layoffs. Netanyahu should announce a detailed plan together with the Histadrut [Labor Federation] and employers." Meretz chairman Haim Oron accused Netanyahu of supporting an economic policy that further harmed weak sectors of society through broad cuts to government services, while at the same time strengthening the richest levels by offering tax cuts. Oron did not spare Shas and Labor from his criticism, saying they had put their their social agendas aside in exchange for "crumbs in the coalition agreements." Criticism also came from Kadima's ranks, even though one month ago, it was the party's finance minister Ronnie Bar-On who bore the brunt of criticism for inaction regarding the global economic crisis. "The pyrotechnical show that Netanyahu named 'the Braking and Take-Off Plan' is more deserving of the name "Decline and Retreat," mocked MK Yohanan Plessner. "Alongside the presentation of the range of negative impacts in critical national sectors, Netanyahu chose to give precedence to politics over economics and to raise by dozens of percentage points the payments passed on to yeshiva students and other sectors who do not add to national production."