The Close Connections between the Economy and the Family
Some public figures like to dismiss the so-called "social issues" as irrelevant to the economy; many of those same people think that they can address fiscal concerns without any understanding of the pressures and drains put on the economy from the breakdown of the family. With the government now owning 51 percent of the private sector, we would do well to remember that our society has suffered grievously from programs and policies that meant well but failed miserably - and on a colossal scale - as is documented by an abundance of data and the negative social trends in America that have done so much damage to the nation's families and children.
Now, with the implementation of ObamaCare looming and tax increases seeming inevitable, we face yet another ill-advised call for a return to the old, failed social welfare policies of entitlement, income redistribution, and tax increases. Best estimates indicate that the U.S. tax Code now contains approximately 3.7 million words -- almost nine times the total number of words in the King James Bible. Carrie L. Lukas, in her article, "The Tax Man Cometh," reports that the nation's families face a double-whammy in terms of taxes: in addition to losing about 30 percent of our income for federal, state, and local taxes (more than the typical family spends on food, clothing, and housing combined), Americans also spend nearly 4 billion hours in complying with income tax laws.
Worse, we are discovering that ObamaCare really will "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." ObamaCare's marriage penalty could possibly cost couples over $10,000 a year. This intentional disparity means that U.S. government policy will encourage singleness and create increased disincentives for marriage. Single individuals will have an advantage with the earned income tax credit as well as welfare benefits, including food stamps. This comes as no surprise, of course, because "making the subsidies neutral towards marriage would lead to a married couple with only one bread-winner getting a more generous subsidy than a single parent at the same income-level."
With ObamaCare ramping up subsidies promoting single motherhood and discouraging marriage, an increase in poverty is inevitable -- along with dramatic increases in entitlements and dramatic tax hikes to pay for the increased entitlements. These increases 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 sustained the inner city matriarchal culture. These perks are costing American taxpayers trillions of dollars 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 is projected to add another $2.5 trillion after all its provisions take effect. There's no end in sight to the increasing costs of these entitlements.
Politically, the "marriage penalty" is also a Democratic vote-getting initiative -- 70 percent of unmarried women voted for President Obama in the 2008 election. Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, a liberal firm that consults for clients such as Bill Clinton and John Kerry, said: "Unmarried women represent one of the most reliable Democratic cohorts in the electorate ... leading the charge for fundamental change in health care."
As the nation's largest public policy women's group, Concerned Women for America has been sounding the alarm about how the fiscal health of the nation and economic crises are affecting America's families. We advocate a fiscal reform plan that focuses on entitlement reform -- offering options that will enable today's families to keep more of the money they earn and rescue our children and grandchildren from the debt and national decline that will otherwise land on their shoulders. We remind legislators that the nation's women are very concerned about the way government dependency is impacting American families. We want to see principled, courageous action to reverse the crisis and bring back the kind of financial and economic stability that propelled America into the world's superpower and enabled families to thrive - having a steady, good paying job, owning a home, and enjoying a bright, prosperous future. We reject any and all tax increases that will cripple families, devastate the economy, and consolidate more power in government. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, "The ultimate test of a moral society is the kind of world that it leaves to its children."
Janice Shaw Crouse, Ph.D. is Senior Fellow of Concerned Women for America's think tank, the Beverly LaHaye Institute and author of Children at Risk (2010) and Marriage Matters (2012).