The Bottom Line / Those we look up to
The plan. Not only does Amir Peretz oppose Benjamin Netanyahu's plan, he also has a plan of his own. He says he is aware of the budget deficit, and proposes to wipe it out with new taxes and compulsory loans. This is an exceptionally bad plan that would push the economy back into an even deeper recession, increase the brain drain and accelerate unemployment.
The plan. Not only does Amir Peretz oppose Benjamin Netanyahu's plan, he also has a plan of his own. He says he is aware of the budget deficit, and proposes to wipe it out with new taxes and compulsory loans. This is an exceptionally bad plan that would push the economy back into an even deeper recession, increase the brain drain and accelerate unemployment. But Peretz is unlikely to come around; which is why those of his plans that have been adopted should be reviewed, like the management of the Histadrut, with which he has been charged since December 1995.
Well, after seven years under his leadership, Peretz has managed to bring the Histadrut to the precipice. The organization is unable to pay salaries on time, it keeps dismissing employees and slashing wages, it maintains redundant and costly bureaucracies; consequently, its debts have skyrocketed to NIS 1.4 billion.
Despite its operating deficit, the Histadrut continues to pay high wages, and is blatantly inefficient. It is in dire need of a lifeline, and if it does not get another major loan, it will undoubtedly go bankrupt. Based on this success, it seems Peretz should keep his brilliant economic plans to himself.
Reverse tactics. Immediately after Passover, Peretz will proclaim Netanyahu to be unreliable, and promise he will not let him touch the workers and will protect the public against Netanyahu's decrees. In short: we can expect a long, hard strike. Maybe then, just before Peretz halts the economy, Netanyahu will say that the situation is so bad (which is the truth) that he has no money with which to pay salaries, to keep the schools open, to finance Egged or do anything else. So he has no choice but to shut down the public sector and send the workers home. Maybe this reversal will shock public opinion. Maybe then Peretz will finally understand that the fate of the economy is at stake.
The Knesset. It is impossible to talk about an emergency and say that the economy is three meters from the abyss (as Netanyahu has put it), and at the same time proceed with business as usual. In times of emergency, the Knesset should not go on a long Passover vacation, but should continue to work during Hol Hamo'ed as well, in order to push the economic plan ahead. That's what an emergency means.
But our Knesset members don't seem too concerned. They intend to take their usual long holiday, and at the same time continue to squeeze the state coffers. This time, they propose to charge the Knesset budget with financing the 12 party whips. Until now, party whips were paid out of the large budgets that the parties get from the state, precisely for purposes such as this.
But our Knesset members, led by Dalia Itzik, wish to relieve themselves of this burden and pass it over to the Knesset. This is easy for them to do, since they are the ones who decide what the Knesset's budget will be. This way, they will have more money to spend on the next election campaign. Our MKs are certainly setting an example for budget discipline.