Brownback: "End the Welfare Marriage Penalty"
Sen. Sam Brownback writes with David Blankenhorn in The Wall Street Journal:
... Why should we care about this issue? For starters, consider the children. A wide range of studies have found that children whose parents are married are significantly less likely to use drugs, have emotional problems, drop out of school, or get into trouble with the law. Studies also consistently find that married adults tend to be happier, healthier and ultimately wealthier than their unmarried but otherwise similarly situated peers.My Comments:
So when we penalize poor couples for getting married, we are giving them a strong incentive not to take advantage of an institution that would likely help them lift themselves out of poverty over time. Being married gives couples a greater capacity to build assets and economic stability, which could help get them off of welfare for good.
For these reasons, it's time to eliminate the marriage penalty for low-income Americans. Our proposal is simple: Don't make them pay it. We should allow newly married couples to continue to receive all of their benefits for the first three years of marriage, thus mitigating the marriage penalty currently paid by lower-income couples. This adjustment should give newly married couples a sufficient grace period to realize the economic benefits of marriage – and save some money to stabilize their financial situation – before government benefits cease.
When that day comes, the government's message to low-income Americans will have changed dramatically. We will be saying: Your marriage matters – for you and for all of us. We will no longer penalize low-income Americans who wish to marry.
Liberals ought to support this idea, because it means more money for the poor. Conservatives ought to support this idea, because it is pro-marriage, and because it may help to reduce welfare dependency over the long run. Everyone ought to like this idea because it could help reduce the suffering that so frequently accompanies family fragmentation and divorce...
Another good and charitable idea from Sen. Brownback for which his detractors among left-liberal Catholics will never give him any credit.
Previous Pro Ecclesia posts on this subject:
Catholic Teaching and Political Risk Taking: When Credit Isn't Given Where Credit is Due [UPDATED]