The rightist Netanyahu government unveiled yesterday (Thursday, April 23, 2009) its “jet plane for economic growth,” with an immediate cut in corporate taxes and massive privatizations of the Electricity Corporation, the Employment Agency, the ports, and the Land Authority, in an attempt to fuel renewed capitalist gains.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz presented the program, which was rich with slogans but poor in specific content that Finance Minister Steinitz promised would be disclosed as the “jet plane” continues on the runway towards takeoff. The Prime Minister opened his statement with the analogy to the jet, saying that a pilot and a co-pilot exist to keep the economy from taking a nosedive and then guide it to “soar upwards.”
Israeli business leaders reacted favorably to the proposals. Histadrut (General Federation of Labor in Israel) chairman Ofer Eini responded cautiously to the economic plan presented by the prime minister and the minister of finance. “The true test of the government will be in the result. We intend to maintain intensive dialogue, in the ‘Round Table’ forum, to arrive at an agreed economic plan in the next two to three weeks to minimize the waves of layoffs.”
In contrast, communist members of Knesset (the Israeli parliament) attacked the plan. “At the center of the plan is making the rich richer, a scandalous tax reduction in tax rates for the wealthiest and for the big corporations, at the expense of the state budget and social services,” said Dov Khenin (Hadash fraction). According to him, Netanyahu’s focus on encouraging exporters is a mistaken idea. “Exports already account for 50% of Israel’s GDP, and the ability to expand exports beyond that in conditions of a global capitalist crisis is in grave doubt. The focus should have been on encouraging production for the needs of the Israeli economy, promoting peace and putting an end to the occupation of the Palestinian territories, and expanding social and public services — health, education, and environment. Expanding social services could generate additional jobs and offer a real way of coping with widening unemployment,” Khenin said.