Tag Archives: Marriage Penalty

New study: social welfare programs encourage low-income Americans not to marry

Does government provide incentives for people to get married?
Does government provide incentives for people to NOT get married?

I don’t think anyone disagrees that it’s good for society if the next generation of young workers are raised in a home where their mothers and fathers are present in a stable, loving married home. And so, you would expect that no one would ever pay people money to not get married, and/or take away money from people who do get married. After all, if marriage is a good thing, why use money to discourage people from doing it?

Well, take a look at this article in the Wall Street Journal.

It says:

When it comes to marriage, the U.S. tax code is roughly neutral: The number of people penalized for being married is roughly the same as the number who benefit from it.

The same is not true for social welfare programs, such as Medicaid, food stamps or housing assistance, which can impose significant financial penalties on recipients who are married, according to new research from the R Street Institute, a Washington think tank.

In some cases, that creates major disincentives for low-income couples—especially those who are already living together—to tie the knot.

“Historically, low-income couples have faced especially onerous marriage penalties, because most safety-net benefits are means-tested (with steep phase-out rates or even cliffs)” applied on those who are married, researchers Douglas J. Besharov and Neil Gilbert wrote. “Marriage could easily reduce or end the benefits of a single parent with children.”

The effects vary from state to state, and depend on the relationship between the couple living together, whether or not they have children, whether they share expenses and how much money they earn.

In Arkansas, the state with the highest marriage penalties, if a nonparent marries a parent with two children and each adult earns $20,000, they would lose approximately $13,248 in benefits, or roughly a third of their total household income, according to the study.

The effects also vary by program. In a paper released Tuesday, researchers at the Urban Institute found the additional-child tax credit and the earned-income tax credit had the largest effect on creating either marriage penalties or bonuses, depending on the state and how the earnings were divided among the couple.

The penalties have become a growing issue in recent years as the size and coverage of means-tested welfare programs has swelled, and now includes more middle-income households. At the same time the stigma associated with living together out of wedlock has shrunk, leading to declining marriage rates.

The study’s authors claim:

“The supposition that marriage penalties have an impact on decisions to marry gains credence from the simple fact that marriage rates are highest among higher-income groups that are less affected by them and for whom such penalties represent a smaller proportion of total income,” they wrote.

I think we want to guard against the situation where we are transferring money from people who do the right thing and get married to people who do the wrong thing and have children before they get married. It’s not good for anyone that single mothers do this. It’s not good for the children of single mothers, it’s not good for the single mothers, and it’s not good for the taxpayers who have to pay for these welfare programs. It’s not a good thing when a politician is generous at spending other people’s money.

Like it or not, taxes and welfare payments do communicate incentives to people… incentives that affect their decision-making. If we really care about kids getting the best environment to grow up in, then we ought to care that government does not tell people to not get married by how they tax and spend.

You can read this paper by Dr. Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation to see why marriage is so good for children, when compared to a single mom on welfare.

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.

Santorum campaign relies on donated buses and door-to-door campaigning

From socially liberal Business Week.

Excerpt:

With minimal campaign organization and less funds than his rivals, Santorum has boosted his campaign with the votes of a network of evangelical Christians, anti-abortion rights activists and home-schooling parents who are resisting frontrunner Mitt Romney. In a March 8-11 national Bloomberg Poll, likely voters who described themselves as “born again” or evangelical Christian backed Santorum by 42 percent compared with 28 percent for Romney.

“Romney’s inability to close out the race has given Santorum a golden opportunity to unite social conservatives behind him, and they are getting in line,” said Keith Appell, a Republican public relations executive who works with social conservative groups.

Parents who home school their children are spreading the message on Facebook. Southern Baptist pastors are promoting Santorum’s candidacy to their members. Anti-abortion rights advocates are boarding the “Rick Bus” for multi-state voter mobilization tours.

Two days before Tennessee’s primary, Santorum attended services on March 4 at the Bellevue Baptist Church, a 7,000- member organization in the Memphis suburbs.

[…]Santorum won the state’s primary.

Such efforts are helping the former Pennsylvania senator compensate for a campaign operation that trails Romney in every measure of strength: money, staff, and organization.

Romney raised $63 million for his campaign through January, compared with $7 million by Santorum. Santorum had spent $148,806 on salaries and benefits through January; Romney’s personnel costs have exceeded $4.5 million. Santorum recently opened a national campaign headquarters in Virginia; Romney’s offices near Boston Harbor have been open nearly a year.

He’s tapping into well organized yet loosely affiliated groups of activists whose leaders consider Santorum one of them. “Santorum has piggybacked on the top of other existing grassroots networks,” said Cleta Mitchell, his campaign counsel. “They’re basically activating their networks on his behalf.”

[…]Romney and a political action committee supporting him ran 64 percent of the commercials that aired in Mississippi and Alabama in the month before the primaries, compared to just 15 percent aired by Santorum’s backers, according to data from New York-based Kantar Media’s CMAG, which tracks advertising.

The article tries to paint Santorum as a social conservative, and he is. But he also has a solid economic plan, that’s targeted to the middle class, and especially manufacturing. Basically, Romney is burning through millions and millions of dollars to buy the nomination. But ordinary conservatives, especially social conservatives, like Rick Santorum best.

Rick Santorum

Rick Santorum’s economic plan is good for Ohio and Ohioans

From the Wall Street Journal, a column by Rick Santorum.

Excerpt:

[I]n my first 100 days as president, I’ll submit to Congress and work to pass a comprehensive pro-growth and pro-family Economic Freedom Agenda. Here are 10 of its main initiatives:

  • Unleash America’s energy. I’ll approve the Keystone Pipeline for jobs and energy security, and sign an order on day one unleashing America’s domestic energy production, allowing states to choose where they want to explore for oil and natural gas and to set their own regulations for hydrofracking.
  • Stop job-killing regulation. All Obama administration regulations that have an economic burden over $100 million will be repealed, including the Environmental Protection Agency rule on CO2 emissions that’s already shut down six power plants. I’ll review all regulations, making sure they use sound science and cost benefit analysis.
  • A pro-growth, pro-family tax policy. I’ll submit to Congress comprehensive tax policies to strengthen opportunity in our country, with only two income tax rates of 10% and 28%. To help families, I’ll triple the personal deduction for children and eliminate the marriage tax penalty.
  • Restore America’s competitiveness. The corporate tax rate should be halved, to a flat rate of 17.5%. Corporations should be allowed to expense all business equipment and investment. Taxes on corporate earnings repatriated from overseas should be eliminated to bring home manufacturing. I’ll take the lead on tort reform to lower costs to consumers.
  • Rein in spending. I’ll propose spending cuts of $5 trillion over five years, including cuts for the remainder of fiscal year 2013. I’ll propose budgets that spend less money each year than prior years, and I’ll reduce the nondefense-related federal work force by at least 10%, without replacing them with private contractors.
  • Repeal and replace ObamaCare. I’ll submit legislation to repeal ObamaCare, and on day one issue an executive order ending related regulatory obligations on the states. I’ll work with Congress to replace ObamaCare with competitive insurance choices to improve quality and limit the costs of health care, while protecting those with uninsurable health conditions. In contrast, Gov. Romney signed into law RomneyCare, which provided the model for ObamaCare. Its best-known feature is its overreaching individual health-care mandate. But it shares over a dozen other similarities with ObamaCare and has given Massachusetts the highest health-care premiums in the nation, and longer waits for health care.
  • Balance the budget. I’ll submit to Congress a budget that will balance within four years and call on Congress to pass a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution which limits federal spending to 18% of GDP.
  • Negotiate and submit free trade agreements. Because many Americans work for companies which export, I’ll initiate negotiations in the first 100 days and submit to Congress five free trade agreements during my first year in office to increase exports.
  • Reform entitlements. I’ll cut means-tested entitlement programs by 10% across the board, freeze them for four years, and block grant them to states—as I did as the author of welfare reform in 1996. I’ll reform Medicare and Social Security so they are fiscally sustainable for seniors and young people.
  • Revive housing. I’ll submit plans to Congress to phase out within several years Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s federal housing role, reform and make transparent the Federal Reserve, and allow families whose mortgages are “underwater” to deduct losses from the sale of their home in order to get a fresh start in difficult economic times.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Santorum’s a “supply-sider for the working man“.

Rick Santorum

What does Rick Santorum’s economic plan do?

From the Wall Street Journal, a column by Rick Santorum.

Excerpt:

[I]n my first 100 days as president, I’ll submit to Congress and work to pass a comprehensive pro-growth and pro-family Economic Freedom Agenda. Here are 10 of its main initiatives:

  • Unleash America’s energy. I’ll approve the Keystone Pipeline for jobs and energy security, and sign an order on day one unleashing America’s domestic energy production, allowing states to choose where they want to explore for oil and natural gas and to set their own regulations for hydrofracking.
  • Stop job-killing regulation. All Obama administration regulations that have an economic burden over $100 million will be repealed, including the Environmental Protection Agency rule on CO2 emissions that’s already shut down six power plants. I’ll review all regulations, making sure they use sound science and cost benefit analysis.
  • A pro-growth, pro-family tax policy. I’ll submit to Congress comprehensive tax policies to strengthen opportunity in our country, with only two income tax rates of 10% and 28%. To help families, I’ll triple the personal deduction for children and eliminate the marriage tax penalty.
  • Restore America’s competitiveness. The corporate tax rate should be halved, to a flat rate of 17.5%. Corporations should be allowed to expense all business equipment and investment. Taxes on corporate earnings repatriated from overseas should be eliminated to bring home manufacturing. I’ll take the lead on tort reform to lower costs to consumers.
  • Rein in spending. I’ll propose spending cuts of $5 trillion over five years, including cuts for the remainder of fiscal year 2013. I’ll propose budgets that spend less money each year than prior years, and I’ll reduce the nondefense-related federal work force by at least 10%, without replacing them with private contractors.
  • Repeal and replace ObamaCare. I’ll submit legislation to repeal ObamaCare, and on day one issue an executive order ending related regulatory obligations on the states. I’ll work with Congress to replace ObamaCare with competitive insurance choices to improve quality and limit the costs of health care, while protecting those with uninsurable health conditions. In contrast, Gov. Romney signed into law RomneyCare, which provided the model for ObamaCare. Its best-known feature is its overreaching individual health-care mandate. But it shares over a dozen other similarities with ObamaCare and has given Massachusetts the highest health-care premiums in the nation, and longer waits for health care.
  • Balance the budget. I’ll submit to Congress a budget that will balance within four years and call on Congress to pass a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution which limits federal spending to 18% of GDP.
  • Negotiate and submit free trade agreements. Because many Americans work for companies which export, I’ll initiate negotiations in the first 100 days and submit to Congress five free trade agreements during my first year in office to increase exports.
  • Reform entitlements. I’ll cut means-tested entitlement programs by 10% across the board, freeze them for four years, and block grant them to states—as I did as the author of welfare reform in 1996. I’ll reform Medicare and Social Security so they are fiscally sustainable for seniors and young people.
  • Revive housing. I’ll submit plans to Congress to phase out within several years Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s federal housing role, reform and make transparent the Federal Reserve, and allow families whose mortgages are “underwater” to deduct losses from the sale of their home in order to get a fresh start in difficult economic times.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Santorum’s a “supply-sider for the working man“.

Rick Santorum