The headline in Israel was NOT :
— that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney intends to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem if he is elected (rejecting a stance taken from Ronald Reagan through George W. Bush and that virtually no other country has taken.)
— that the Republican-controlled House may finally resolve the question of needed additional sanctions on Iran before it goes on its summer recess (this would require additional regulations and reporting by businesses.)
— that 47 people attend the first ever American presidential fundraiser on Israel soil, at a price of $50,000 per couple; although Israelis will no doubt remember the Romney line – “Thank you for your support today. May God bless my country of America, and may he bless and protect the nation of Israel.” (Hey, if blessings will work, why did American taxpayers just “give” an additional $ 70 million in new funding for Iron Dome which is in addition to $205 million approved for the program last year ?)
— that Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that Barack Obama has been the most supportive president on matters of Israeli security throughout the two countries’ diplomatic relations and that the Obama administration’s support of Israeli defense and intelligence establishments was far greater than under any other administration he remembered working with since and including President Jimmy Carter.
No, the headline was what Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu called “a responsible step that will preserve Israel’s economy and jobs for its citizens.”
The headline was that the Israeli cabinet had agreed on budget fix, which is close to four percent of Israel’s gross domestic product.
The finance ministry’s economic “fix“ includes a one percent increase in the Value Added Tax to 17 percent; and a one percent hike in income tax on those earning more than 8800 shekels and two percent above 80,000 shekels a month. Conversion rates are subject to the market, but the US dollar equivalent would be that if you earned more than $28,000 annually, the increased income tax would be 1% and if you earned more than $257,000 the increase would be 2%.
Gosh, when I hear that Republicans are rejecting President Obama’s suggestion that those with incomes greater than $250,000 be increased 3%, it makes you wonder if he compromised at 2% would that also be rejected ?
Wannbe-CEO-in-Chief Romney was safely out of Israel when the Cabinet agreed to Netanyahu plan, but his “No Apologies” Tour has opened a lot of eyes.
From Forbes is an article entitled “Whiplash-Mitt Romney Lavishes Praise On Israel’s Socialist, Government Controlled Healthcare System”, Romney is quoted :
“When our health care costs are completely out of control. Do you realize what health care spending is as a percentage of the GDP in Israel? 8 percent. You spend 8 percent of GDP on health care. And you’re a pretty healthy nation. We spend 18 percent of our GDP on health care. 10 percentage points more. That gap, that 10 percent cost, let me compare that with the size of our military. Our military budget is 4 percent. Our gap with Israel is 10 points of GDP. We have to find ways, not just to provide health care to more people, but to find ways to finally manage our health care costs.”
Yep, Whiplash Romney fails to acknowledge that Israel regulates its health care system aggressively, requiring all residents to carry insurance (in Republican vernacular that’s a mandate) and as the government health care system is largely funded through payroll and general tax revenue. The government provides all citizens with health insurance as citizens get to choose from one of four competing, nonprofit plans. Those insurance plans have to accept all customers—including people with pre-existing conditions—and provide residents with a broad set of government-mandated benefits. The people are responsible for 40% of their medical costs and many purchase supplemental insurance.
Wanna-be Peace-Negotiator-in-Chief Romney also stirred up the Palestine people.
Attempting to bestow praise on his Jewish audience, Mr. Romney told them that Israel was more prosperous than the Palestinian territories …
“I am overwhelmingly impressed with the hand of providence, whenever it chooses to apply itself, and also the greatness of the human spirit, and how individuals who reach for greatness and have purpose above themselves are able to build and accomplish things that could only be done by a species created in the image of God.
I come to this place, therefore, with a sense of profound humility, as I look around here at great people who’ve accomplished a great thing, and also a sense of spiritual connection, acknowledging the hand of providence in establishing this place and making it a holy city.
As you I come here and I look out over this city and consider the accomplishments of the people of this nation, I recognize the power of at least culture and a few other things.
As you come here and you see the GDP per capita, for instance, in Israel which is about $21,000, and compare that with the GDP per capital just across the areas managed by the Palestinian Authority, which is more like $10,000 per capita, you notice such a dramatically stark difference in economic vitality.”
Maybe the “hand of providence” should give a backhand slap to “Peacemaker” Romney as senior Palestinian figures reacted angrily.
“It is a racist statement and this man doesn’t realize that the Palestinian economy cannot reach its potential because there is an Israeli occupation,” said Saeb Erekat, the veteran Palestinian negotiator with close ties with the US.
“It seems to me this man lacks information, knowledge, vision and understanding of this region and its people. What this man is doing here is just promoting extremism, violence and hatred, and this is absolutely unacceptable.”
Mr. Romney’s aides yesterday desperately tried to dispel the impression that he had intended to offend the Palestinians, saying his comments in Jerusalem had been “mischaracterized”.
It did not help that Mr. Romney’s figures were also way off the mark. Israel’s per capita GDP stands at $31,000, while the figure for the Palestinians is just over $1,500.
Heck, who would notice a 20:1 mischaracterization ?
Wow … now, I understand why Herman Cain was leading the Republican field before his “romantic”-side was exposed … is Mitt Romney the best that the Republicans can offer ?