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May 30, 2015 / 12 Sivan, 5775
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Lapid’s Marie Antoinette-Style Budget

The proposed budget harms the poor more than the rich.
Yair Lapid (pictured with a friend) was the big winner Friday morning, capturing votes from both Likud-Beiteinu and Labor.

Yair Lapid with a friend
Photo Credit: Roni Schutzer/Flash90

There isn’t much  good I can say about our new finance minister’s budget, except that Yair Lapid has a lot of guts.  There’s hardly anyone, especially among those who voted for him, who likes and agrees with Lapid’s first budget.  I agree with the detractors here.  This budget makes no sense to me.

In terms of the cuts in the military, it’s outrageous, ridiculous and dangerous.   On one hand Lapid and the Israeli government still say that they want to draft pretty  much all the Haredi men, claiming the army needs them, but if the military budget is reduced, there won’t be money for that.  And that’s one of the simpler points to ponder.

With a vote in the full cabinet expected Monday on Finance Minister Yair Lapid’s budget proposal for 2013- 2014, the security cabinet met throughout the day Sunday and into the night to parse out NIS 4 billion in proposed cuts to defense spending.

I agree with Professor Ron Breiman that reducing army service will only endanger us:

Only once before in Israeli history has a similar measure been taken, and only two draft classes were able to enjoy it. I’m talking about those who were drafted in August and November of 1964 and served only two years and two months. Not long after, the quiet along Israel’s borders, since 1956, was broken and the winds of war began to blow from Egypt, Syria and Jordan. The result was the Six-Day War in 1967.
In the years following the Six-Day War — the years of the War of Attrition, the Yom Kippur War, the First Lebanon War — it was clear to everyone that there was no choice but to maintain the three-year mandatory service policy. Only in the 1990s , when the bells of “peace” rang in “the new Middle East” did country’s leaders think again about shortening military service. This time, however, the easing of the security burden was directed at the reserve army, not towards changing the three-year mandatory service policy. The reserve service cut-off was lowered to 40 years of age, the need to receive a permit for travelling abroad was cancelled, and more.

It will make a much less professional and competent IDF.

I call it a Marie Antionette budget, because it harms the poor more than the rich.  In a rare instance, I agree with Labor’s  Shelly Yacimovich.

According to her figures, after factoring in tax changes, price increases, National Insurance Institute child allotments and so forth, the bottom 10 percent of Israelis would lose a whopping 25.1% of their income while the richest decile would only lose 2.2%. The majority of the changes stemmed from proposed reductions in child allotments. “A picture arises of a heavy burden from difficult, regressive, non-egalitarian cuts that clearly hurt the poor and middle classes, primarily, and hardly touch the rich,” Yacimovich said.

I work in one of those minimum wage jobs, and none of us have any “fat” to trim from our budgets.  So, big deal if the wealthier will take fewer trips abroad or keep their cars a year or two longer.  For many of us those sorts of luxuries are just dreams.

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About the Author: Batya Medad blogs at Shiloh Musings.

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