Obamacare Destroying Marriages (Before They Begin)

Barb Wire

We haven’t heard much lately about the “marriage penalty” in ObamaCare.  That’s the provision designed to placate and cement the support of the 70 percent of unmarried women who voted for President Obama in the 2008 election.  In 2012, not only were women the majority of voters, but they composed one third of the electorate voting for President Obama, creating a gender gap of 10 points.  No wonder CNN called 2012 the “Year of the Woman.”

Remember when commentators argued that ObamaCare would “destroy marriage for the middle class the same way that the Great Society welfare state destroyed the black family with financial incentives for staying single?” Now there is a growing understanding that – as much as anything else – ObamaCare is aimed at subsidizing a life of singleness among women, particularly unmarried mothers.  Little wonder many pro-marriage activists view the bill as “a direct attack on marriage.”  The Heritage Foundation reports that the annual “penalty” for being married could go as high as $10,000, and, cumulatively, a married couple “could face a penalty of over $200,000 during the course of their marriage.”  The bill would “hit young married couples hard” and “bite back at empty-nesters” by creating “enormous pressure for couples to live together without marriage – or even get divorced – by charging married couples thousands of dollars more in premiums and fees.”

In time, one would think that even the liberal media will be forced to recognize that progressive politicians – in their vote-buying spree – have added another huge layer to the bloated welfare state and forced the staggering married middle class to carry the load.

Robert Rector, Senior Research Fellow at the Heritage Foundation, pointed out in January 2014 that spending by federal and state governments on all means-tested welfare programs to provide cash, food, housing, medical care, and targeted social services to poor and low-income Americans is “five times the amount needed to eliminate all official poverty in the U.S.”  He added that President Lyndon Baines Johnson promised that his “War on Poverty” would be an “investment” that would “return its cost manifold.”  We now “spend $9,000 per recipient a year,” yet the root causes of poverty have not shrunk, but have in fact “expanded as family structure disintegrated and labor-force participation among men dropped.”

As Robert Maranto and Michael Crouch stated in their Wall Street Journal article:

The two-parent family has declined rapidly in recent decades. In 1960, more than 76% of African-Americans and nearly 97% of whites were born to married couples. Today the percentage is 30% for blacks and 70% for whites. The out-of-wedlock birthrate for Hispanics surpassed 50% in 2006.  This trend, coupled with high divorce rates, means that roughly 25% of American children now live in single-parent homes, twice the percentage in Europe (12%).  Roughly a third of American children live apart from their fathers.

As I have pointed out repeatedly (including at length in a chapter, “Single Mothers and Poverty,” in my book Children at Risk), the predictable risks of father absence are tragic both for the individual child and for society in general.  “The single biggest economic factor related to children’s material well-being is that children living in female-headed households with no husband now make up 24 percent of all related children. … In simplest terms: The poverty rate of single mothers with children is 5 times higher than the rate for married couples with children.”  Rector puts it this way: “Children raised by single parents are three times more likely to end up in jail and 50% more likely to be poor as adults.”

Just this week, CNS News published an alarming fact: 86 million full-time, private-sector workers sustain 148 million benefit-takers.  Specifically, “The 147,802,000 non-veteran benefit takers outnumbered the 86,429,000 full-time private sector workers 1.7 to 1.”

Today, according to the U.S. Census Bureau (see note below), poor children living in single-parent households constitute almost two thirds of all poor children (65 percent).  That figure stands in stark contrast to the time before liberal social welfare policies went into effect in 1960, when only 25 percent of all poor children lived in single-parent households.

The message is painfully undeniable and unequivocal.  There is no way to address poverty in America without addressing the problem of absent fathers and single mothers.  Yet the Affordable Health Care bill that was rammed through by the Obama administration does exactly the opposite: ObamaCare ramps up the subsidies promoting single motherhood and discouraging marriage.  These subsidies are just one more of the numerous financial incentives in current government policy that increasingly encourage individuals to reject marriage – the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), housing subsidies, food stamps, child support payments, and the welfare dependency programs that created and now sustain the inner-city matriarchal culture.

The domestic and social policies of the Democratic Party are typically shaped by feminist input.  White House logs under the Obama administration indicate that representatives of Planned Parenthood are among the most frequent visitors.  ObamaCare continues the paybacks to the radical feminists.  Early in his administration, President Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Act, allowing women to sue employers for workplace discrimination.  Now, years after widespread workplace discrimination no longer exists, the left continues to fire up its base using that rhetoric.  During the current recession, the president gave the majority of taxpayer-funded stimulus jobs to women, even though men were suffering the majority of job losses.

These perks to the administration’s feminist allies are costing American taxpayers hundreds upon hundreds of billions a year.  Current welfare programs total close to $1 trillion a year (twice as much as national defense and nearly the size of the federal deficit); ObamaCare will add another $2.5 trillion.  There’s no end in sight to the increasing costs of these entitlements.

Democratic staffers supposedly told reporters that they “had to decide what their goals were” with Health Care Reform legislation, and they clearly put identity politics and payoffs ahead of economic growth and prosperity.  They should learn from history: more than forty years of failed policies have shown that when the wrong solution is applied to a bad situation, increases in funding simply magnify the problem.  Evidently they didn’t care, as long as they could say, “We won.”


Note: Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, 2013 Annual Social and Economic Supplement, Table POV02: People in Families by Family Structure, Age, and Sex, Iterated by Income-to-Poverty Ratio and Race: 2012; Of the 15,940,000 poor children living in families in 2012, 8,692,000 were living in families with a female householder with no spouse present (their poverty rate was 47.1 percent) and 1,336,000 were living in families with a male householder with no spouse present (their poverty rate was 25.7 percent).  Thus 10,028,000 poor children were living in families with no spouse present compared with only 5,462,000 poor children who were living in married-couple families (their poverty rate was only 11.1 percent). http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/cpstables/032013/pov/toc.htm

First published at American Thinker

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.

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