Wednesday September 3rd 2014

Lapid Defends Cutting Child Benefits

by Eitam Abadi

Cuts in child benefits, which go into effect on Tuesday, will end a cycle of poverty, neo-liberal Finance Minister Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid) claimed in a letter to supporters.

“This was one of our central campaign promises, and now it’s happening,” Lapid wrote late Saturday night.

“We will help needy families and set aside hundreds of millions [of shekels] to make sure no children go hungry, but [the cuts] are a historic move from a culture of allotments to a culture of work.”

Beginning on August 20, parents will receive only 140 shekels per month for each child born after June 1, 2003.

According to Lapid, National Insurance Institute (NII) child allotments perpetuated poverty instead of stopping it.

“There is only one thing that allows families to get out of the cycle of poverty – work. The poverty rate in families with two working parents is under 5 percent.”

“This is the meaning of parental responsibility and social responsibility,” he added.

The finance minister promised to do everything possible to help those who want to work, from placement programs to financial incentives for those who earn low salaries, but he will not compromise on the principle that “the Israeli middle class should not fund those who can work but choose not to.”

Lapid sent a long email to supporters, as he does most weeks, summarizing his and his party’s activities.

He began by denying reports that he cut pensions by 10 percent, saying that is not a spur-of-the-moment decision, but people are willing to believe all bad news.

However, despite a denial sent out by his office, Lapid wrote that “the public’s lack of faith is so deep that people instinctively believe that we’re trying to screw them over.”

Lapid claimed that he is not trying to hurt anyone and that he hopes over time the public will understand that he and Yesh Atid are “different, truth-tellers, neutral of any interest other than doing good for Israel’s citizens.”

Nearly all responses to Lapid’s remarks online were negative, with many pointing out that the impending benefits cut will impact single parents and parents who are unsuccessfully seeking work, and not only those who are unemployed by choice as the finance minister claims.