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.