Ehud Olmert doesn't care what happens here in 2009. He doesn't care how much the deficit grows, how high the unemployment rate soars, what the capital markets will look like. All he cares about is his public image.
He wants to be remembered not as the corrupt prime minister who was tossed out on his ear, but as a kind of Santa Claus who gives gifts to everyone. That way, he will be remembered with longing, and perhaps one day, he will again be called to serve again.
Once, "election economics" meant that the government would distribute a few tens of millions of shekels here and there. At the time, we objected vociferously. But today, we only wish this were the case. Today, we have a pyromaniac prime minister who is trying to burn down the house. He is not talking about tens of millions, or even hundreds. He is talking about billions.
Granted, Olmert has always been "Mr. I Have Money To Give." But this time, he has broken all his previous records.
He has defied proper governmental procedure, humiliated his finance minister and cooperated with the opposition to create a "broad safety net" for pension savings, making a mockery of the responsible plan proposed by Finance Minister Roni Bar-On. But Olmert is selling us illusions. He is offering a miracle that no other country in the world is proposing, even though pension losses in Europe and the United States have been far greater than ours.
This "broad safety net" is a disaster. It will remove us from the family of Western economies. But Olmert doesn't care. He only cares about his image.
Will he sell one of his apartments to finance this "broad safety net"? Of course not. You, the public, will finance it. More specifically, the poor will be giving money to the rich: Those who could not afford to put money into pension funds will now be asked to spend their hard-earned tax shekels on propping up the funds' value for the benefit of those who did have money to invest in them.
Granted, the pension funds earned returns of 66 percent in the period from 2003 through 2007, and have lost only 20 percent this year. But who cares about the facts?
Histadrut chairman Ofer Eini wants to give handouts to the large unions, who have fat pension funds, and Olmert is happy to oblige. Manufacturers Association chairman Shraga Brosh wants to give handouts to all the industrialists who have issued corporate bonds, and Olmert is glad to oblige him as well. The entire business sector is now making pilgrimages to the Prime Minister's Office, because that is much easier than actually doing any work. And who will pay for it all? Mrs. Cohen from Hadera, who has no pension savings and barely makes it through each month.
Olmert is now busy whitewashing his reputation, attacking the prosecution, undermining his successor in the Kadima party, waging war on his finance minister and seeking the public's love. But we need a prime minister who busies himself with seeing to the country's welfare. Therefore, Olmert must go. He must take an immediate leave of absence - before he does us any further harm.
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