Photo Credit: Marc Israel Sellem / POOL
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon at the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem. (archive)

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon (Kulanu) on Tuesday announced a new tax reduction plan to ease the burden on young couples. Dubbed “Net family” and costing $1.09 billion, the new plan awards parents tax exemption points, daycare subsidies, larger work grants, and lower duty on baby cloths and shoes, and cellphones.

The new plan appears to be designed to bypass Prime Minister Netanyahu, who has made it his routine practice to show up wherever his finance minister is scheduled to celebrate one of his successes and share the credit or, worse, claim the whole thing was his idea.

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Even now, the prime minister’s office has already told Israel Radio they were looking favorably at the Kahlon plan, which probably means that Netanyahu is planning to stand next to Kahlon at the future celebration of the initiative.

Minister Kahlon, who single-handedly raised the costs of the most vulnerable section of the housing market – renters – by imposing draconian taxes on investment apartments, is now using his social engineering skills to make sure a young gay couple living in Tel Aviv could get their iPhone 9 cheaper. Khalon is being criticized for lumping rich populations with the middle class and the poor, and for preferring quantity over quality: daycare educational standards and nutrition issues will remain where they were, just cost less.

The bad blood between the PM and his Finance Minister ruptured over Netanyahu’s cutting Kahlon’s legs at the heels over the new broadcasting authority. It was Netanyahu’s plan which Kahlon carried out skillfully and competently, in an effort to close down the old, cumbersome and costly IBA – whose left-leaning starts have been attacking Netanyahu at every turn – with a more agile, cheaper and modern broadcasting outfit. But at some point Netanyahu realized he would have even less control over the new system than he had over the original authority and the PM stepped on the breaks. He also pinned the change on Kahlon, who didn’t resign only because at this point an election would have meant the electoral wiping out of his party, as his voters are expected to return to their previous idol, Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid).

Now approaches Kahlon’s summer of discontent, where every one of his moves is expected to be colored with his desperate need to continue to matter, retain and increase his potential voters and seek the perfect timing when he will inevitable slam the door behind him on Netanyahu. The upside is that with the powerful Finance Ministry under his control, Kahlon can do a lot to improve his political fortunes. The downside is, of course, that with the powerful Finance Ministry under his control, Kahlon can do a lot to improve his political fortunes.

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