Yacimovich: Lapid budget cuts will 'milk' public

Labor leader responds to Lapid's call to reduce the deficit by saying he'll raise VAT, avoid taxing the rich.

Shelly Yacimovich at the President's residence 370 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Shelly Yacimovich at the President's residence 370
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Opposition leader Shelly Yacimovich (Labor) berated Finance Minister Yair Lapid for his economic plans on Sunday, less than a week after he was sworn into office.
Yacimovich responded to a lengthy post by Lapid on the Yesh Atid website from late Saturday night, in which he warned Israelis that they should expect a difficult year while the government dealt with its “overdraft.”
“Lapid wakes up in the morning and sounds exactly, and I mean exactly, like [Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu,” the Labor leader wrote on her Facebook page.
“My brothers the workers, we will continue being the ATM of the country and pay the price,” she continued. “My brothers the workers, I don’t understand economics, as I told you honestly, but I got my first lessons from Finance Ministry bureaucrats,” she added, mocking Lapid.
According to Yacimovich, Lapid will bring cuts and “evil decrees” like Netanyahu, but will announce them through Facebook and smile while using words like “values” and “vision.”
Lapid “learned the material fast, and within a few hours understood that you [the public] are to blame for the situation, and are the only ones I can milk. [He will] bring decrees and cuts, and don’t you dare blame anyone but yourselves,” she wrote facetiously.
Yacimovich said Lapid and the Finance Ministry bureaucrats will raise VAT, instead of taxing the rich, while major corporations will not pay taxes.
“Something old is continuing,” the Labor leader wrote, spoofing the Bayit Yehudi slogan “something new is beginning.”
MK Reuven Rivlin (Likud Beytenu) said attacks on the expected budget cuts were inappropriate.
“Israel’s economy is influenced mostly by the world crisis, and at the moment, the Finance Ministry’s main job is to curb the deficit while staying in the framework of the budget, with minimum harm to those who are helpless,” he explained on Sunday.
Rivlin called for the Knesset “to stand as one and back the government” in order to allow the budget to pass, saying that the lack of a budget for 2013 at such a late stage in the year, requires lawmakers to behave responsibly.
The Likud MK’s comments came following reports that Netanyahu does not want him to be appointed to the Knesset Finance Committee, for fear that Rivlin would vote with the opposition in response to not being reelected Knesset Speaker.
On Saturday night, Lapid wrote: “The picture slowly unfolding before me is worse than I expected.”
In an effort to explain the situation in “simpler terms,” than “deficit” and “financial crisis,” Lapid compared the process to discovering a “monstrous, ominous and growing” bank account overdraft while trying to renovate the house.
“The problem came about because instead of managing the economy responsibly, they took out a huge loan and threw a party,” Lapid wrote.
“It’s time to deal with the overdraft,” he continued, adding that he would devote his first year on the job to narrowing it. Dealing with it sooner rather than later would ensure that the painful cuts would not last as long, he said.
“Whoever feels in the next year that their situation is worsening must know that it will be temporary.”
In his lengthy post, Lapid also discussed the experiences of the whirlwind week, from being sworn in as finance minister to meeting US President Barack Obama.
Moving on to “bigger” issues, he joked that after being photographed next to 1.9-meter tall Obama, the 2- meter tall Secretary of State John Kerry, he and the similarly petite Naftali Bennett should under no circumstances agree to having their picture taken with Israel’s newly crowned beauty queen Yityish Aynaw. A photo was snapped anyway, showing the 1.82-meter Ethiopian-born beauty queen towering over the ministers.