Bennett Warns Labor Party Plan Will Turn Israel Into Venezuela

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Labor party chairman Amir Peretz (Flash90)

United Right’s Naftali Bennett lambasted the Labor party’s economic plan on Monday, calling it “extreme socialism” that would turn Israel into Venezuela, The Times of Israel reported.

The plan includes a minimum wage hike to NIS 40 ($11.50) per hour from NIS 29.12 ($8.40); government construction of 200,000 homes; free education from birth; higher monthly pensions; expanded exemption of basic goods from value-added tax; and higher disability pensions.

Labor Party chief Amir Peretz shot back at Bennett, saying that the plan represented an alternative to the Netanyahu government’s “piggish capitalism,” which has abandoned ordinary citizens.

Labor proposes to pay for the benefits by raising marginal tax rates on monthly incomes over NIS 44,000; making the marginal tax rate on capital gains equivalent to income; canceling special earmarked funds in coalition agreements; ending “special budgets” for outposts in Yehudah and Shomron; and allowing government debt to increase as a percentage of gross domestic product, among other measures.

“The biggest danger [to Israel] is becoming a backward socialist country under Finance Minister Amir Peretz,” Bennett wrote.

He predicted that Peretz’s plan, if implemented, would turn Israel from the “Switzerland of the Middle East” into Venezuela, where the International Monetary Fund predicted inflation would reach 10 million percent this year.

Unfazed by Bennett’s broadside, Peretz challenged Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, to a debate on economic issues. Peretz tweeted, “Bibi, it’s important for you to be applauded by the world’s economists. To me, the Israeli family is important.”

“You stopped seeing Israelis from your admiration for [American economist] Milton Friedman. You two have no children in day care, nor do you have loans to repay. You are not afraid of telephone calls from the bank. You see tables. I see people.” He concluded, “Bibi, if you are so confident in yourself, come debate!”