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The 'Nice Guy' ImageOf Israel's Finance Minister

Israeli Finance Minister Yair Lapid faces the impossible task of maintaining his popularity while implementing budget cuts, writes Nadav Perry.
Israel's Finance Minister Yair Lapid arrives to the first cabinet meeting of the 33rd Israeli government, in Jerusalem March 18, 2013. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's new governing coalition took office after a parliamentary vote on Monday with powerful roles reserved for supporters of settlers in occupied territory. REUTERS/David Vaaknin/Pool (JERUSALEM - Tags: POLITICS) - RTR3F60Q
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Thursday, April 11, was a day to remember: The office of Israel's finance minister issued an official news release. Until now, Finance Minister Yair Lapid has preferred addressing the public through his Facebook page, granting not a single media interview in the three months that have elapsed since the January elections.

The news release, issued to the financial media, announced a decision to come down hard on the rich: Taxes will be raised on luxury homes, cigars, yachts, cars and other top-tier toys. On one of his last Facebook posts, Lapid compared the task he faces, covering the national deficit, to that of an average family with a massive overdraft at the bank. Well, if we continue with this analogy, then the idea of raising taxes on luxury items contributes to covering the national deficit about as much as cutting the budget for matches would help reduce the average family’s overdraft. Do the math. The measures Lapid is trumpeting are worth about NIS 300 million [$83 million] to the state treasury, while the overall deficit exceeds NIS 40 billion [$11 billion].

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