Tougher than Yigal Hurvitz
In a rare confession by a possible future prime minister, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz says he was willing to give the social workers a 25% raise, to pay teachers 50% more, and even hike university lecturer's pay.
Enough! I’m fed up with them all. They know no bounds whatsoever. It doesn’t matter how much I give, they’ll want more. No matter how much I give, they’ll say they got nothing. The only thing they know is how to cry. And the wicked journalists cooperate with them and create a completely distorted picture as if everyone’s below the poverty line, as if everyone’s wretched and deprived. From now on, there’s going to be a new game here. From now on, everyone will see who the real Yuval Steinitz is. As finance minister, there is no longer an “I have” Steinitz. From now on, there is only an “I don’t have” Steinitz.
I admit I fell into the trap they set for me. They told me that if I was good and altruistic, the nation would love me, and I’m looking desperately for love, like all politicians. They told me that if I gave the workers more money, they would respect and praise me. Even my top financial adviser, budgets chief Udi Nissan, said that “people in the treasury today don’t talk about cuts but about raises,” and in my naivety, I believed him. But he doesn’t understand that the moment things like that are said, people start forming a long line to rob the public coffers, and then the budget is breeched and the economy suffers.
Look, I agreed to give the social workers a lot more money, an unprecedented raise, 25 percent. But they attacked me and said they didn’t get anything. So when will they be satisfied? When they get 250 percent and the state budget collapses?
Now, I know that a good finance minister has to carry out reforms to achieve growth in the future. But didn’t I do what was needed at the electric company, at the ports and in the civil service? Now, I also understand that a good finance minister has to be a “bad” finance minister, the kind that looks after the cash register. It’s true that in the beginning, he’s hated, but at the end of his term everyone understands just how right he was. And then he goes down in history as a success story with a good resume for another job. And after all, I want to be prime minister.
Today I also regret Nissan’s new rule; he created a theory under which you can’t improve public services without increasing the budget. That’s the mother of all sin because I know just how much inefficiency and waste there is in the government. Look at what the state comptroller has discovered about the terrible waste of money in the army and the Mossad.
What, there’s nothing to cut there, too?
I’m going crazy with all the demands that are just getting bigger all the tine. Now the people at the Dimona reactor are threatening to strike, the rabbis in the cities are asking for more money, and the high school teachers want a hike of 50 percent. Even the university lecturers, who not so long ago got an extra 24 percent, are demanding more. They saw that the state prosecutors got 20 percent, so why shouldn’t they?
I know too that the people in the career army are waiting for me around the corner with giant wage demands, and so are the policemen and the local-authority workers, to say nothing of those who control the country’s essential services − the workers at the electric company, the Airports Authority, the railways and the Mekorot water company.
So I know I have to stop now, on the edge of the slippery slope. Even if it’s at the expense of the doctors. They’re demanding a raise of 50 percent but I won’t pay a cent beyond the general wage rise of 8 percent over four years that was paid out. That’s the testing point for me. That’s where I have to put on the brakes. They’re not a deprived sector. They’re the only ones in the public sector who can work privately and earn well. That’s where I’m going to stop this race for more money, even if they strike for two months.
But the problem is that the politicians have sensed my weakness, too. Housing and Construction Minister Ariel Atias, for example, plans to submit a bill to subsidize mortgages to the tune of hundreds of millions of shekels per year, despite my opposition. He simply doesn’t see me standing in his way. But I won’t give him a cent.
Because, from today, there’s a new finance minister here, especially compared to some of his predecessors. A person who’s tougher than Yigal Hurvitz, crueler than Yitzhak Moda’i, more cunning than Moshe Nissim, and more professional than Benjamin Netanyahu.
Do you believe all this? You’re really suckers. Today is April 1, April Fools’ Day.