Another Marriage Penalty in the Health Care Bill

Looking on the bright side, if  your marriage is hanging on by a thread, Uncle Sam may provide you with an economic incentive to cut that final strand. If you are considering marriage, but equivocating, this new policy is something to weigh in the balance. However, if you love your spouse, you are screwed – economically speaking.

If we were able to travel back to the 50’s, we would find that single parents were not greatly more prevalent among the poor than among the middle and higher economic groups. Society has changed greatly since then, however. Today, there are many more single parents in all economic strata, but the percentage is much higher among the poor. Government policies may not be primarily responsible for this negative evolution, but government policies did contribute to the problem. For example, one of the many Great Society failures was ADC (aid to dependent children). The intent of the program was admirable. The children of single, and poor parents (almost always women), should have help so that the basic needs of  their children could be met. The problem was that the aid stopped when a Father or partner was added to the household. This discouraged marriage and encouraged children out-of-wedlock.

Today, the elderly widows and widowers that meet playing bingo and would like to marry, often can not afford to. Widows that have not worked enough to earn full social security benefits, often receive much higher benefits based on social security credits earned by their deceased husband. However, if they re-marry, these benefits are greatly reduced. As a result, we have a number of elderly couples who are reluctantly cohabitating.

I am not sure if the income tax marriage penalty still exists but it did for most of my working life. I remember reading of a couple that  regularly divorced at year-end and then remarried shortly after, in order to reduce their tax bill.

The latest anti-marriage attack can be found in the House version of the health care bill. This excerpt comes from Phyllis Schlafly, by way of Michelle Malkin’s Blog.

Here is the cost in the House bill for an unmarried couple who each earn $25,000 a year (total: $50,000). When they both buy health insurance (which will be mandatory), the combined premiums they pay will be capped at $3,076 a year.

But if the couple gets married and has the same combined income of $50,000, they will pay annual premiums up to a cap of $5,160 a year. That means they have to fork over a marriage penalty of $2,084.

The marriage penalty is the result of the fact that government subsidies for buying health insurance are pegged to the federal poverty guidelines. Couples that remain unmarried are rewarded with a separate health care subsidy for each income.

When the Wall Street Journal reporter quizzed the Democratic authors of the health-care bill, they made it clear that this differential was deliberate. The staffer justified the discriminatory treatment because “you have to decide what your goals are.”

Indeed, the Democrats have decided what their goals are. They know that 70 percent of unmarried women voted for Obama in 2008, and the Democrats plan to reward this group with health insurance subsidies.

The final version of the Health Care Bill may change, but this is what the House thinks of marriage. Senator Baucus divorced recently, by the way, so I guess we will get no help from him.

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