Obamacare health insurance exchanges impose massive penalties on married couples

Hans Bader explains on the Competitive Enterprise Institute blog.

Excerpt: (links removed)

On the Obamacare health insurance exchanges, being married can cost you a lot. Get divorced (or avoid getting married, if you live together), and you save $7,230 per year if you are a fairly typical 40-year-old couple with kids (example: the husband working full-time, and the wife working part time, with the husband making $70,000, and the wife making $23,000). If you are a 60-year-old couple with equal incomes and no kids, and you make $62,041 a year, you save $11,028 a year by getting divorced or remaining unmarried. These are the amounts of money you will lose if you get married, since you will lose this amount of taxpayer subsidies due to Obamacare’s discriminatory treatment of married versus unmarried couples. That’s the reality confirmed by an Obamacare “calculator” provided by the pro-Obamacare Kaiser Family Foundation showing how Obamacare’s “tax credits” work.

It’s not the first time that the Democrats have introduced additional marriage penalties:

The tax increases Obama demanded in the fiscal cliff deal also contain a “marriage penalty,” although only for upper-income households (since the maximum rate kicks in at $450,000 for married couples — that is, $225,000 for each spouse — versus $400,000 for singles). Obamacare’s new tax on investment income, which applies to married couples making above $250,000 per year, also contains marriage penalties (for example, if an unmarried couple makes $390,000 — $195,000 for each partner — they owe no investment tax, even if all of their income is investment income, and even if a married couple with the same income would pay the Obamacare investment tax on a significant portion of their income).

Historically, the effect of marriage penalties has been most profound for working-class people, who are punished severely for getting married by the welfare state. As Rep. Thomas Petri (R-Wisc.) has noted, “The decline in marriage and the rise in the number of children born to unmarried mothers are concentrated among lower-income families. One reason is that lower-income couples will often lose money if they get married. Many federal benefits such as food stamps and the earned income tax credit phase out as income rises. Under federal law, if two individuals earning the minimum wage choose to marry, combining their incomes results in the loss of some $7,000 in federal benefits. The result: Fewer marriages, more births outside marriage and reduced prospects for rising into the middle class.”

The article goes on to explain why Obamacare penalizes does who work, but I want to stick with the Democrat antipathy to marriage.

Radical feminism opposes marriage

Why do Democrats want traditional marriage to go away? Well, because Democrats are radical feminists, and radical feminists want marriage to go away.

Here’s a research paper written in 2003 from the Heritage Foundation.

Excerpt: (footnote numbering and links removed)

In her 1996 book In the Name of the Family: Rethinking Family Values in the Postmodern Age, Judith Stacey, Professor of Gender Studies and Sociology at the University of Southern California, consigned traditional marriage to the dustbin of history. Stacey contended that “Inequity and coercion…always lay at the vortex of that supposedly voluntary `compassionate marriage’ of the traditional nuclear family.” She welcomed the fact that traditional married-couple families (which she terms “The Family”) are being replaced by single-mother families (which she terms the postmodern “family of woman”):

Perhaps the postmodern “family of woman” will take the lead in burying The Family at long last. The [married nuclear] Family is a concept derived from faulty theoretical premises and an imperialistic logic, which even at its height never served the best interests of women, their children, or even many men…. The [nuclear married] family is dead. Long live our families!

Stacey urged policymakers to abandon their concern with restoring marital commitment between mothers and fathers and instead “move forward toward the postmodern family regime,” characterized by single parenthood and transitory relationships.

In 1996, Claudia Card, professor of Philosophy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, continued the attack:

The legal rights of access that married partners have to each other’s persons, property, and lives makes it all but impossible for a spouse to defend herself (or himself), or to be protected against torture, rape, battery, stalking, mayhem, or murder by the other spouse…. Legal marriage thus enlists state support for conditions conducive to murder and mayhem.

Other radical feminists suggested that a culture of self-sufficiency and high turnover in intimate relationships is the key to independence and protection from hostile home life. Activist Fran Peavey, in a 1997 Harvard article ironically titled “A Celebration of Love and Commitment,” suggested that “Instead of getting married for life, men and women (in whatever combination suits their sexual orientation) should sign up for a seven-year hitch. If they want to reenlist for another seven, they may, but after that, the marriage is over.” Also in 1997, radical feminist author Ashton Applewhite, in her book Cutting Loose–Why Women Who End Their Marriages Do So Well proclaimed: “Women who end their marriages are far better off afterward.”

Another feminist widely read during the 1990s was Barbara Ehrenreich, a former columnist with Time magazine who now writes for The Nation. Throughout her work, Ehrenreich extols single parenthood and disparages marriage. Divorce, she argues, produces “no lasting psychological damage” for children. What America needs is not fewer divorces but more “good divorces.” Rather than seeking to strengthen marriage, policymakers “should concentrate on improving the quality of divorce.” In general, Ehrenreich concludes that single parenthood presents no problems that cannot be solved by much larger government subsidies to single parents.

Ehrenreich writes enthusiastically about efforts to move beyond the narrow limits of the nuclear married family toward more rational forms of human relationship:

There is a long and honorable tradition of “anti-family” thought. The French philosopher Charles Fourier taught that the family was a barrier to human progress; early feminists saw a degrading parallel between marriage and prostitution. More recently, the renowned British anthropologist Edmund Leach stated, “far from being the basis of the good society, the family with its narrow privacy and tawdry secrets, is the source of all discontents.”

While Ehrenreich recognizes that men and women are inevitably drawn to one another, she believes male-female relationships should be ad hoc, provisional, and transitory. She particularly disparages the idea of long-term marital commitment between fathers and mothers. In the future, children will be raised increasingly by communal groups of adults. These children apparently will fare far better than those raised within the tight constraints of the nuclear married family “with its deep impacted tensions.”

The paper goes on to explain how these messages have entered into college textbooks. College textbooks used in classes where young women are expected to agree with the textbooks in order to get their good grades. This is what your children will learn. It’s not what you think feminism is that matters – it’s what they think feminism is. And what they think is what the textbooks tell them to think – or else they get drummed out of the university. This is where the 42% out-of-wedlock birth rate came from. And why our children are growing up without fathers, and as a consequence of that, growing further and further away from God. Marriage is bad, feminists tell us, because husbands and their traditional roles are bad. So what are men for? To donate sperm and to pay taxes for welfare programs that make men and marriage superfluous. In the past, men married because they wanted the responsibility of the traditional male roles of protector, provider and moral/spiritual leader. If you want to know why men aren’t marrying now, look to the policies that have removed the respect and responsibility that men enjoyed within their family and from society for taking on these traditional roles. We have been replaced by government, and radical feminism is to blame.

You can read more about what radical feminists think about marriage here, and realize that this is animating Democrat policy-making. If you want marriage, make sure you don’t vote for a party that is trying to destroy it by every means possible – from redefinition, to divorce, to welfare, to exaggerations about domestic violence, to punitive taxation policies – and beyond. If you are a child of divorce, thank a Democrat. That was their intention – to deprive you of the stability you needed when you were growing up. One last point: it doesn’t really address the policy issue when pro-marriage conservatives think that the solution to the decline of marriage is to tell men to “man up”. That’s an easy solution for empty-headed church leaders, but it doesn’t reflect the real incentives that exist, thanks to policies pushed by the left.

7 thoughts on “Obamacare health insurance exchanges impose massive penalties on married couples”

  1. I agree that more attention needs to be given to the policies and norms of our society and how they discourage marriage. However, there is also a need to tell men to “man up.” This is a call, a challenge, for men to learn to be men as God sees manhood. There’s nothing wrong with that.

    Of course, this call to “man up” shouldn’t be used to try to get men to things that are wrong or unwise. And in many cases I would agree that this message has been misused and misdirected. But no man is going to be able to tell God “Sorry. I know you called me to marriage and I knew several godly women who would have been good wives, but I couldn’t take the step and marry one of them because society made marriage too expensive or too unpopular or too difficult.” There have been many anti-marriage policies in various places throughout history and Christians have still managed to get married, raise a family, and serve the Lord. There comes a point when you can’t blame everything on your culture and have to take reponsibility for your own actions.

    So it is to the men who need to hear the message of taking responsibility and doing something that is hard and counter-cultural that this mesage of “man up” should be directed. It is to these men, that society has told to be passive and silent, that we need to spread the message that manhood involves doing things that are difficult and unpopular. We need to challenge them to do that which society has made difficult in its quest to destroy the family and Christianity. Yes, we should also work to make those things less difficult by implementing good policies, and I’m all in favor of that. But you can’t say that men should just give up and do nothing and it’s all society’s fault if they do.


    1. Not every man feels called to marriage, and not every young woman a man meets may he consider compatible, and/or if he asks out young women but they aren’t interested, what can he do?

      Marriage is a legitimate, valid Scriptural choice; but so is singlehood. Why should anyone else care if a particular young man either chooses not to marry, or doesn’t either find someone he deems compatible / isn’t found compatible by young women he asks out? Telling a man to ‘man up and get married’ if he’s attempted courtship but struck out thus far, is like telling someone sick ‘Be well!’ without taking them to a doctor or otherwise helping them improve their health, or telling someone starving ‘Eat something!’ without feeding them or taking them to a food bank, or telling a naked beggar ‘Put on some clothes!’ while not taking them to a clothing store… While telling a man who simply has chosen not to marry that he should, is trying to dictate to others how they ought to live; very Pharisaical, that.

      Christians should avoid judging other Christians’ choices / circumstances.

      ‘Man up!’ is simply a catchphrase, trying to get others to do what one feels they ought to, by attempting to shame them into feeling less of a man if they don’t comply. Fortunately, many young men today have wisened up to that, and no longer give a hoot what others’ may think regarding their choices or circumstances. I’m one of them; I’m no less a man for not having married; I’m not sure if I ever will or not; I’m open to the possibility, but I haven’t yet, amongst the women I’ve dated, found any that I’ve either found compatible or who have found me compatible. I’ll marry if and when I meet the right woman (and we both agree we’re right for each other), if and when I choose to (I’m beginning to think I’m called to lifelong singlehood, and there’s nothing wrong with that), and nobody telling me to ‘Man up!’ is going to influence my decision in the slightest. I already AM a man; I’m an adult male human, bearing the Imago Dei. I’m confident in that; nothing anyone might say is going to make me think I’m less of a man than one who has simply gotten married. Was Paul less of a man for never marrying? Exactly.

      As for the times we live in, the legal situations, etc., why shouldn’t I or any other man factor such into our decision-making process? Just because you don’t like our doing so? Not a rational argument, that. But then ‘Man up!’ calls never are; just emoting…


      1. The reason Paul didn’t marry because he knew well in advance that he would die a martyrer’s death. Why to mess up a young Jewish girl’s life, who’s pregnant and her child grows up without a father? This child will only rebel in society since he/she didn’t knew his/her father and will not fare well in school and be just another statistic for the books.
        You are looking for compatibility before marrying???….something which will never happen. Not only do women differ physically from men, they dress differently, they view and spend money differently, think differently, respond differently, have differently lifestyles culturally, eat differently, view God’s Word from a different angle (none of the 66 books in the Bible are written by a woman!), listen to different types of music and view films differently, etc.
        If unbelievers can live together without being compatible, why CAN’T 2 Christians get married where Christ is the Center? They should off course be able to agree on some things before coming together.
        Nowhere does the Bible talk about sexual or physical compatibility!!!


  2. Great Post, though i have a question. What are the repercussions for failing to purchase health insurance and refusing to pay the “fine,” “tax,” “penalty” or whatever it’s being called now?


    1. Well, the fine is mandatory – it is a tax so you have to pay it.

      However, if the only people who sign up for Obamacare are the sick ones with pre-existing conditions, and no one else does, it means that the program will run massive deficits.


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