Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, fresh from freeing terrorists, has come to an agreement with Opposition parties, setting the stage for approval of the 2013-2014 budget either Tuesday or Wednesday. If the budget is not approved by midnight Wednesday, new elections would have to be called, by law.
The “pass the budget or call elections” final deadline usually is March 31, but the general elections early this year changed the timetable.
As usual, a debate on the complex and weighty “Economic Arrangements Bill,” a nifty way to hold the country as hostage by appending anything and everything that, threatened to foil a vote on the budget. Political maneuvering cleared the way for its passage late Monday night, leaving the actual budget as the next order of business.
That could have taken a few days, which would have forced new elections, because Knesset Members were able to come up with – count’em – 4,000 thousand objections. That is four thousand, not four hundred, or approximately 33 per MK.
And who said that MKs don’t work?
Finance Minister Yair Lapid rejected a jeering speech from Opposition Leader Shelley Yachimovich and maintained that the budget will “encourage growth,’ which will be news to fans of Economics 101. Lapid recently bulldozed through the Knesset a rise in taxes, particularly a one percent hike in the regressive Value Added Tax (VAT), Israel’s version of a national sales tax. If that encourages growth, Lapid missed the boat by not doubling the potential growth rate and raising the tax by two percent.
The budget cuts child support payments, prompting Haredi Knesset member Yaakov Litzman to go off the deep end and ranted, “You’re starving Jewish children.”