NOM BLOG

Category Archives: Economics

Obamacare's Marriage Penalties

At The Heritage Foundation's The Foundry blog, Chris Jacobs writes of "How Obamacare Discourages Work and Marriage."

Jacobs explains that " the law perpetuates some of the country’s worst trends that trap people in poverty. It includes disincentives for individuals to marry and for Americans of low and modest incomes to work."

The two marriage penalties included in Obamacare, "one for families with low and moderate incomes and another for families with higher incomes," are revealed by Jacobs by use of a concrete illustration:

PenalizedA 50-year-old non-smoker making $35,000 per year would qualify for a sizable insurance subsidy, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s insurance subsidy calculator. The individual’s premium would be capped at 9.5 percent of income, resulting in an insurance subsidy of $2,065 paid by the federal government.

However, if this 50-year-old is married to another 50-year-old who also makes $35,000 per year, the couple would receive no insurance subsidy at all. This couple would incur a marriage penalty of $4,130 in one year—equal to the $2,065 that each individual could have received if they were not married.

Click here to read Jacobs' full article.

Marriage as a Social Justice Issue

If you live in or around Washington, DC you may want to plan to visit Georgetown University this evening for what is sure to be a fantastic lecture by NOM friend and What is Marriage? co-author Ryan T. Anderson. The title of the lecture is "Marriage as a Social Justice Issue."

Here is the description from the event page:

Ryan AndersonWhat is marriage? Why does marriage matter? What would be the consequences of redefining marriage? These are just some of the questions Ryan T. Anderson will address in his lecture on Marriage as a Social Justice Issue.  Anderson is the William E. Simon Fellow at the Heritage Foundation and co-author of the book What Is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense, cited by Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito twice in his dissenting opinion on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) case. Anderson makes a secular case for marriage without appeals to theology, revelation or morality.

The lecture will be in McCarthy Hall in the McShain Large  Conference Room (37th and O St. N.W.) from 7:00 - 9:00 PM. It is free and open to the public.

RSVP on Facebook event page here.

The "Least of Illinois' Concerns"

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At TownHall.com, Sarah Jane Seman offers a response to a recent claim by an Illinois lawmaker that by not redefining marriage, Illinois is "missing out on [an] economic opportunity."

Seman references our friend Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse's able take-down of the arguments from economics:

[A leading report on the economic advantages of same-sex marriage] give[s] the illusion of precision, however, the entire report is incorrect because premises are flawed, Morse explained.

For example, it calculated a fiscal increase from weddings between in-state residents. This is not added money to the economy, it is merely redirecting cash. The only increase to the state budget would come from out-of-state residents.

Read the entire piece here.

And, if you're a resident of Illinois, click here to send a message to the Illinois legislature to vote against redefining marriage when they reconvene next month.

Redefining Marriage and the Concept of Freedom

In his column today, First Things editor R.R. Reno discusses the concepts of freedom and discipline. And why same-sex marriage is intimately tied to both.

...it’s very palpable here in New York and entirely accepted and affirmed by the well-educated twenty-somethings who flock here—it’s not surprising that we see people cherishing compensatory freedoms. The hard-working twenty-somethings have tattoos, dye their hair weird colors, and want to organize their intimate lives without rigid limits and invasive rules.

Rainbow FlagRedefining marriage becomes an obvious imperative, but not because of abstract claims about equality. It’s a powerful institution that disciplines us, not only sexually, but in many other intimate ways as well. Today many, perhaps most, want this power to serve our freedom. Thus our new cultural ideal, which is by no means limited to gays and lesbians: marriage is the creation of the love of individuals, not an institution with rigid roles and rules.

Same-sex marriage, gay adoption, sexual freedom? We’re under tremendous pressure to affirm these goals because the top level of society is turning in on itself. As is always the case when society isn’t facing external threats or internal chaos, the powerful seek greater freedom, because they’re the ones in the best position to take advantage of it.

True, the Left wants a finely woven safety net for those who use their freedoms unwisely, while the Right tends to go the other direction, arguing that people need to suffer the consequences of their choices so that they’ll make better choices in the future. But the political and policy differences operate mostly on the surface. At a deeper level our leadership class is consolidating around a generally libertarian outlook that accepts and affirms ways in which the authority of the marketplace and its ministering disciplines have superseded the older authorities.

Same sex marriage is the issue today because our culture is now dominated by people for whom freedom is (conveniently for them) the solution to most problems. People don’t have jobs? Answer: more freedom. Terrorists want to kill us? Answer: more freedom. People are unhappy in their intimate lives? Answer: more freedom.

Read the full article over at First Things.

Gov. Pence: States with Marriage Amendments Have Fastest Growing Economies

During a visit to Evansville this week, Indiana Governor Mike Pence pointed out the correlation between states that protect marriage as husband and wife and strong economic growth:

Gov. Mike PenceGovernor Pence was in town to introduce a new state based initiative office at the Evansville Rotary.  He says that many of the 32 states that define traditional marriage in their charters have some of the fastest growing economies, including Indiana, drawing a correlation between a ban on same-sex marriage and economic development. Pence says the federal government has outlined it's role in marriage equality and now wants the people of Indiana to have a say on how it is recognized in the state.  "As someone who believes in traditional marriage, I believe marriage is between a man and a woman. I do support efforts to allow the people of Indiana to make that decision whether we include the traditional definition of marriage in our state constitution and I think that's appropriate," Pence said.

Pence says he's confident if the issue is on the ballot, voters will reaffirm the state's existing laws banning same sex marriage. -WFIE

Marriage Reduces Likelihood of Child Poverty by 82 Percent

Heritage’s blog, The Foundry, recently shared an illuminating chart (see below) that demonstrates the connection between child poverty and being raised in single-mother households.

Today, one out of every four children lives with only his or her mother. Of those children in single-mother homes, 58 percent are impoverished. In contrast, as Heritage’s Robert Rector points out, marriage reduces the probability of child poverty by 82 percent. Growing up with a married father can have significant impact on a child’s economic, social, and psychological well-being.

“[R]edefining marriage further distances marriage from the needs of children and denies the importance of mothers and fathers. Redefining marriage rejects as a matter of policy the ideal that children need a mother and a father,” explains Heritage’s Ryan T. Anderson. “Redefining marriage diminishes the social pressures for husbands to remain with their wives and children, and for men and women to marry before having children,” he continues.

Read more.

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Forbes: No Evidence that Gay Marriage is Good for Business

Jerry Bowyer for Forbes:

Sometimes you just know that you are being subjected to a hard sell. Someone pushes a product at you and they just start rattling off alleged benefits, hoping that one will hit the right button and trigger your impulse to buy. You’ll look younger…cures baldness…lose weight…save money…girls love it….just buy it, will ya? That’s what the recent rash of ‘gay-marriage-is-good-for-business’ announcements is beginning to sound like. Microsoft was the big boy who got this started, pouring millions of dollars into pro-gay marriage initiatives, warning Washington State that a ban on gay marriage would be bad for business because it would hurt with the recruitment of talent.

Economy

...Recently, the former CEO of BP, Lord Browne, called for Britain to embrace homosexual marriage because he says it is good for business. He says that countries which change the definition of marriage to include homosexual relations will have an advantage over those which keep the historic definition.

But no evidence has been presented to justify this point.

...But what if it turns out that people really do decide where to live and work based on sexual identity politics? Then there is no particular reason to assume that this cuts in favor of the homosexual side. Homosexuals, after all, are a small percentage of the population: 2-3% by most serious estimates. On the other hand, when one adds up Mormons, evangelicals, traditional Roman Catholics and Orthodox Jews, that’s roughly half of the population. Aren’t they talented, too?

One man’s culture of ‘marriage equality’ (to use an advocate’s buzz phrase) is another man’s rejection of the Bible and millennia of human tradition. I can tell you that Christians and Orthodox Jews are expressing very grave concerns about the tone of anger directed at them in this current climate. Maybe business leaders need to start thinking about how to attract their talents, too.

Gay Marriage Won't Be an Economic Boost to Illinois

Prof. Jennifer Roback Morse, Founder and President of the Ruth Institute, writes in Mercatornet:

116935206recent report claims that "marriage equality" will provide an economic boost to Illinois: US$54- $103 million in new spending, and $8.5 million in new tax revenues. This study comes at an opportune time for the gay lobby in Illinois. Their marriage bill, SB-10, is not exactly sailing through the House. Chicago legislators representing heavily ethnic minority and religiously conservative districts have been reluctant to endorse the redefinition of marriage. Perhaps the gay lobby hopes this extra tax money might motivate wavering legislators to support this bill.

The people and legislators of Illinois should not count on extra revenue as a benefit from redefining marriage. These forecasts are based on an elementary economic error as well as highly dubious forecasts. That is why the "Gay Marriage Economic Miracle!!!" predictions have not worked out so well in the past.

If you have not yet contacted your state legislator in Illinois please do so today.

Video: NOM's Peters on CNN: Supreme Court Must Respect Votes of 7 Million Californians to Protect Marriage

NOM's Communications Director Thomas Peters engaged in a spirited debate on a wide range of issues surrounding marriage, corporate fairness, and the Supreme Court on CNN this weekend:

CNN has posted a transcript -- including this part about the so-called economic argument for redefining marriage:

[CNN HOST] KEILAR: But the point that I'm getting at is that when we talk about this as a business imperative, let's take a look at what this filing says. It says, recognizing the rights of same-sex couples to marry is more than a constitutional issue. It is a business imperative. So what do you think about that? Do you agree with that? Do you disagree with that? Is it about more than that? Is that not enough?

PETERS: I strongly disagree with it, because, first of all, the top 10 states for growth right now in this country, nine of them have marriage protection amendments. And so, you know, where this argument comes from is the left wing, UCLA Williams Institute, which has been peddling this argument for years, that gay marriage is an economic stimulus. The very states that are currently trying to [...] legalize gay marriage, like New York and California, are not exactly in an economic picture of well-being. So, look, strong states like Indiana are moving towards marriage protection amendments. North Carolina recently passed its marriage protection amendment by 61 percent. The fact of the matter is that protecting marriage protects children and it helps businesses.

KEILAR: But, Thomas, let me ask you this. Because you have businesses now that are saying, it's costing us money. They say and this obviously gets a little complicated, but they say, same-sex couples are required to pay a Federal income tax on health benefits provided to a spouse through an employer-sponsored health insurance plan. Some employers reimburse employees for the extra tax paid. That requires extra time and money. They say it's costing them money. Do you disagree with that?

PETERS: Well, let's look at -- you used the adjective complicated and you're right, it is complicated. But here's one complicating factor that I think is being ignored in this broader debate. You know, the president is arguing in the Supreme Court that gays and lesbians are politically powerless class. And now you've been telling me time and time again that all these corporations support redefining marriage.

So I would actually ask Brian [of the Human Rights Campaign], which is it? Are gays and lesbians actually a politically powerless class or do all these corporations, the vast majority of people support redefining marriage because you can't have it both ways -- I believe the majority of Americans believe in protecting marriage and I believe that gays and lesbians are an incredibly powerful political class that are trying to redefine marriage for all of us.

Heritage's Walker: Marriage Makes Fiscal Sense

Andrew Walker of the Heritage Foundation wrote last week in conjunction with National Marriage Week:

"...Americans deserve to know the facts about marriage as an antidote to child poverty. That’s especially true of at-risk youth. How many times does a young person hear that she should stay in school, wear her seatbelt, and not smoke? Will she ever hear that marriage is important to her and her children’s welfare? Do taxpayers realize the significance of marriage for alleviating child poverty—or do they only hear messages about how much more we need to spend on welfare programs? That’s what National Marriage Week aims to change.

Policy can send important messages about the importance of marriage, but it doesn’t play the most important role.

Parents should personally communicate to their children the social and personal costs of unwed parenting—from economic hardships that can occur to the difficulty of raising a child alone.

The path to prosperity requires a robust marriage culture—it matters for both individuals and for America.

"Here's a Secret -- Marriage is America’s Most Effective Anti-Poverty Program"

Sheila Weber is the executive director of National Marriage Week USA and writes in FoxNews:

In spite of other disagreements, there is one aspect about marriage that both the left and the right can find to agree on.  Marriage is a valuable anti-poverty program.

The Brookings Institution says that if we had the marriage rate today that we had in 1970, there would be a 25 percent drop in poverty.  The Heritage Foundation says that marriage drops the probability of a child living in poverty by 82 percent.

This week we focus on Valentine’s Day; and while a celebration of romance is great, we should also celebrate marriage as a valuable culmination of romance, because it’s not just about love, but ultimately about providing a better life for the children of America.

... Let’s start a movement where more and more Americans seek out relationship education and marriage enrichment classes as often as we seek out other forms of self improvement such as home renovation, book clubs, grooming, fashion, décor, or cooking.

If we can change the public’s thinking and habits on recycling, smoking, exercise and healthy eating, how much more does America need a campaign to improve the public’s thinking and actions about the benefits to our country of encouraging healthy marriage?

Pat Fagan: The Wealth of Nations Depends on the Health of Families

Patrick Fagan is Senior Fellow and Director of the Marriage and Religion Research Institute at the Family Research Council. He writes in  Public Discourse that "Family, church, and school are the three basic people-forming institutions, and it is no wonder that they produce the best results—including economic and political ones—when they cooperate.":

Even if all the market reforms of the Washington think tanks, the Wall Street Journal, and Forbes Magazine were enacted, we’d still need to kiss the Great American Economy goodbye. Below the level of economic policy lies a society that is producing fewer people capable of hard work, especially married men with children. As the retreat from marriage continues apace, there are fewer and fewer of these men, resulting in a slowly, permanently decelerating economy.

When men get married, their sense of responsibility and drive to provide gives them the incentive to work much harder. This translates into an average 27-percent increase in their productivity and income. With the retreat from marriage, instead of this “marriage premium,” we get more single men (who work the least), more cohabiting men (who work less than married men), and more divorced men (who fall between the singles and cohabiters).

All this is visible in the changing work patterns of our country, resulting in real macro-economic consequences.

IRS: Cheapest Obamacare Plan Will Be $20,000 Per Family

A burden on middle class and young families:

In a final regulation issued Wednesday, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) assumed that under Obamacare the cheapest health insurance plan available in 2016 for a family will cost $20,000 for the year.

Under Obamacare, Americans will be required to buy health insurance or pay a penalty to the IRS.

The IRS's assumption that the cheapest plan for a family will cost $20,000 per year is found in examples the IRS gives to help people understand how to calculate the penalty they will need to pay the government if they do not buy a mandated health plan.

The examples point to families of four and families of five, both of which the IRS expects in its assumptions to pay a minimum of $20,000 per year for a bronze plan.

“The annual national average bronze plan premium for a family of 5 (2 adults, 3 children) is $20,000,” the regulation says.

Bronze will be the lowest tier health-insurance plan available under Obamacare--after Silver, Gold, and Platinum. Under the law, the penalty for not buying health insurance is supposed to be capped at either the annual average Bronze premium, 2.5 percent of taxable income, or $2,085.00 per family in 2016.

In the new final rules published Wednesday, IRS set in law the rules for implementing the penalty Americans must pay if they fail to obey Obamacare's mandate to buy insurance. (CNSNews)

Tax Expert Says U.S. Tax Code Sending a Message: Don't Be Married

The fiscal cliff deal signed by President Obama earlier this month comes down especially hard on married individuals, many of whom were already penalized by the Affordable Care Act:

It pays to be single -- that is, when it comes to high earners' tax bills.

U.S. taxpayers with income of more than $200,000 a year will see federal tax rates rise this year on wages and investments. Tax increases will pinch married couples faster than individuals, especially if both spouses work and have capital gains and dividend income, said Joseph Perry, partner- in-charge of tax and business services at the accounting firm Marcum LLP.

In the law passed by Congress Jan. 1, multiple thresholds for higher rates kick in for married couples only $50,000 above where they hit for singles. Married taxpayers with income of at least $300,000 also face limits on the value of deductions and personal exemptions that were reinstated for 2013.

"If they're sending a message, it's not to be married," Perry said of U.S. tax policy. "People who are married, working, earning two good salaries, are being penalized."

The budget deal struck by Congress and new taxes stemming from the 2010 health-care law are exacerbating the long- established marriage penalty for high earners. The added bite will affect taxes they pay for 2013, and not the current filing season that starts this month. (Bloomberg)

"Iconic" Annapolis, Maryland Trolley Forced to Shut Down Because of SSM

The Baltimore Sun:

An Annapolis company whose old-fashioned trolleys are iconic in the city's wedding scene has abandoned the nuptial industry rather than serve same-sex couples.

The owner of Discover Annapolis Tours said he decided to walk away from $50,000 in annual revenue instead of compromising his Christian convictions when same-sex marriages become legal in Maryland in less than a week. And he has urged prospective clients to lobby state lawmakers for a religious exemption for wedding vendors.

... Wedding vendors elsewhere who refused to accommodate same-sex couples have faced discrimination lawsuits — and lost. Legal experts said Discover Annapolis Tours sidesteps legal trouble by avoiding all weddings.

... The trolley company's decision, publicized by a straight groom offended by what he called "repressive bigotry," offers a snapshot of a local business navigating a new landscape in Maryland's wedding industry, and leaving it behind for a competitor to swoop in.

The head of the Maryland Wedding Professionals Association said the trolley company is the second vendor to refuse business over the state's same-sex marriage law, which voters upheld in November. The Maryland clergyman who led opposition to same-sex marriage called the trolley company's choice to abandon profits on principle "gutsy" and predicted that more businesses would quietly follow suit.

... Frank Schubert, the political strategist who ran campaigns against same-sex marriage in Maryland and three other states this year, said opponents predicted collateral damage from legalizing same-sex unions.

"This is exactly what happens," Schubert said, adding that religious liberty is "right in the cross hairs of this debate. … The law doesn't protect people of faith. It simply doesn't."

Schubert pointed to a handful of other examples publicized in news reports across the country of wedding vendors sued for refusing to accommodate a same-sex ceremony: a pair of Vermont innkeepers, a New Jersey church group and a New Mexico wedding photographer.