Barak: 'This Is the Time for Drastic Budgetary Expansion'

"This is the time for immediate, drastic expansion [of the budget], without any stops, for investments in infrastructure and research and development, and for retraining workers and creating growth for the stage after the crisis," said defense minister and Labor Party chairman Ehud Barak yesterday. "For a long time before investment bank Lehman Brothers collapsed, we said there was a clear crisis, and we must not be confused. And we need to act immediately. The writing was on the wall."

As for the credit crisis, Barak said this is the time to deal with the real economy seriously and the willingness to lend money. The state must intervene, he added. Barak said it is not important whether the budget deficit grows to 4% or 7% of GDP. He agreed with the Manufacturers Association's position calling for the state to put up NIS 1 billion for a credit fund along with NIS 5 billion from the banks.

Barak did not hesitate to criticize Netanyahu. "Anyone who knows how deeply Netanyahu believes in the [economic] path that collapsed will find it hard to believe that he can find a solution." He refrained from mentioning Tzipi Livni by name, but mentioned her party, Kadima: "It is confused and is taking too small steps, too little and to late."