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Lapid: Middle Class Not a 'Money Machine'

Finance Minister Yair Lapid has stressed that new taxes and the burden of financing the country cannot fall strictly on the middle class
By David Lev
First Publish: 4/1/2013, 10:13 PM

Yair Lapid
Yair Lapid
Israel news photo: Flash 90

On the eve of what is likely to be a series of heavy tax increases for Israelis, Finance Minister Yair Lapid has stressed that the burden cannot fall strictly on the middle class. “Israel's economy is based on the middle class, on the families that work and pay taxes,” Lapid wrote this week on his Facebook page. “If workers are given normal conditions and made to feel that the government is behind them, they will blossom,” he wrote.

Lapid wrote that he realized that he would be asked to make difficult decisions. “I am not prepared to see Israel turn into another Cyprus on my watch,” he wrote, referring to the economic crisis in that country. “The start may be difficult, but in time those who are carrying the state on their backs will realize that they are no longer the 'money machine' from which the state can automatically extract endless funds.”

Lapid described the plight of a typical middle class Israeli, 'Riki' from Hadera. She works as a high school teacher, while her husband holds a mid-level position in a high tech company. Together they earn about NIS 20,000 a month, enough to allow them to travel abroad on a low-cost tour package once every two years, but nowhere enough to enable them to help their three children buy an apartment.

“We have to help her, because she helps us” by teaching kids, Lapid wrote. “She represents the middle class in Israel – people who get up in the morning, work hard, pay taxes, and are not part of a special interest or economic group. What are we doing for her?”