Finance Minister Yair Lapid on Saturday compared Israelis who criticize him to “schnauzers who were left out in the rain.”
“All of us, members of Yesh Atid, have to deal on a daily basis with people who look at us with the look of angry schnauzers who were forgotten out in the rain, and announce that ‘they are disappointed,’" Lapid wrote in an e-mail to party activists.
"The few times I managed to drag these ‘disappointment professionals’ into a conversation, they admitted, half-heartedly, that they understand that it was necessary to eliminate the deficit,” wrote Lapid, adding, “To them, too, it is clear that it's been years since one party has so dramatically changed national priorities."
He added that he felt responsible to do what was right for the State and not what would gain him popularity among Israelis.
"At the same time, I take them seriously," wrote Lapid of his critics. "We will have to make peace with the angry Israelis. We'll go to them one by one if necessary, and ask them the simple question: 'Why would political people, who want to be popular, take steps that hurt their popularity?”
"This is our commitment: to do what is right for Israel, not what helps us earn brownie points...I would have liked a budget that simply gives and gives and gives. Gives to central Israel and to the periphery, gives to the young and the old, lowers income tax to two percent, eliminates the VAT, gives a car to every worker and an aircraft to every family,” wrote Lapid. “Now that we’re done with the fantasy world, back to the real world, with a real budget that needs to be submitted to a real Knesset.”
A few weeks ago, the state budget brought forth by Lapid for 2013-2014 was approved. The budget contains some difficult austerity measures, including taxes that are going up for just about everyone in Israel; for those earning NIS 14,000 and less, taxes will rise by 1% next year, while those earning between NIS 14,000 and 20,000 will pay 1.4% more.
Those earning more than NIS 20,000 will pay 2% more. Corporate taxes will be going up as well, by 1.5%. Other benefits and tax breaks will be reduced or eliminated.
The budget, as well as other out of the ordinary statements by Lapid, have negatively affected the public’s trust of him. A poll released this past week found that over three quarters of Israelis do not trust Lapid to lead Israel's economy to prosperity and success.
The poll, taken by the Knesset Channel, found that 78% did not believe Lapid was doing a good job managing the Israeli economy, while 82% said that Lapid would not make a good Prime Minister.
Only 20% of Israelis believed that Lapid had what it takes to lead the country economically, while just 12% said he would make a good political leader, the poll showed.
When asked if Lapid had kept the promises he made during the election campaign, 54% said that he did not. As well, 43% of those who identified themselves as Yesh Atid voters said that they would not vote for the party again. If elections were held today, Yesh Atid would get only 13 Knesset seats, compared to its current 19.
In May, Lapid chose to skip a vote in the Knesset on the rise in the value added tax (VAT), a measure he had proposed, in favor of a vacation in France.
The Finance Minister has also been criticized by the opposition for spending too much time posting on Facebook while not showing up for important Knesset discussions.