Kadima Proposes Negative Tax, Civil Marriage and Secular Burial.
Education Minister Meir Sheetrit has set out Kadima's socio-economic policy. It includes a negative income tax, civil marriage and secular burial.
At the heart of Kadima's economic policy is a negative income tax, an idea that has been floated periodically in the media as a panacea for alleviating poverty.
Such a tax, generally a graduated transfer payment made to persons who earn below a set amount, can be implemented in a multitude of ways. Sheetrit failed to reveal concrete details regarding Kadima's version of the idea. He said he hoped that a negative tax would break the cycle of unemployment and poverty.
Sheetrit, who served as Binyamin Netanyahu's finance minister when Netanyahu was prime minister (1996-99), also mentioned nothing about restoring other cuts in transfer payments. Netanyahu slashed such payments when he served as Sharon's finance minister (2003-2005). The cuts have been blamed for dramatically increasing poverty levels in Israel.
Sheetrit did say that a Kadima-led government would give tax breaks to persons or families paying tuition for higher education. On the other hand, Sheetrit was silent regarding a long-standing proposal to recognize mortgage payments for tax purposes. He said Kadima would back educational programs for the poor and unemployed and favor introducing interest-free long-term school loans for the disadvantaged.
On other issues, Sheetrit said Kadima would push for legislation legalizing civil marriage and facilitating secular forms of burial. Such matters, in relation to Jews, are currently under the authority of the Israeli Rabbinate.
Kadima's stand on these issues makes it highly unlikely the party would form a coalition with the religious parties, or other more nationalistic parties on the right. These parties generally oppose measures that would negatively impact on Israel's character as a Jewish state.