As a proponent of self-governance, it’s frustrating to see the government causing damage as it tries to solve a problem.  The most recent example of this?  The “marriage penalty” in welfare.  

A recent study by the American Enterprise Institute shows the long broken welfare system dis-incentivises working class Americans from getting married. Without this government policy in place, couples would be more likely to provide the two parent households most healthy for children to grow up in. Instead, the socioeconomic divide only grows.

The Washington Free Beacon explains the “marriage penalty:”

“…a pregnant mother earning $21,000 a year, cohabiting with the father of her child, earning $29,000 a year, would be Medicaid-eligible. But if the two were to be married, their joint annual income would render her ineligible for Medicaid coverage for her birth—an average cost of $12,000. The result is that the structure of welfare discourages marriage, a.k.a. a marriage penalty.”

According to the Institute For Family Studies, 56% of upper class Americans aged between 18 and 55 are married. For lower class Americans, the percentage drops to 26%. 

Wait, I thought welfare was supposed to help working class citizens? Instead the single parent households brought about by the flawed system are perpetuating poverty. 

Explain to me again how Republicans don’t care about poor people?  Oh right.  Turns out, traditional values actually help insulate people from poverty… no matter how much Democrats have tried to stigmatize those beliefs.

Research in the AEI’s study showed a $1000 increase in the penalty resulted in a 1.7% decrease in marriage, and a 2.7% decrease in marriage with Americans without a college degree. 

If we take money from couples who would otherwise marry, fewer people get married.

The AEI’s study lists some of the benefits of the nuclear family.

Children in single-parent families are more than four times more likely to be poor than children raised by married parents. Socially and emotionally, girls are 2–5 times more likely to end up pregnant in adolescence and boys are 2–3 times more likely to end up incarcerated before they turn 30 if they grow up in a non-intact family. Children raised in cohabiting families are more than twice as likely to be suspended or expelled from high school compared to adolescents living with married parents.

Additionally, adding an unrelated adult to a single parent household can have disastrous consequences. One federal study found children living in a household with an unrelated adult were around 9 times more likely to be sexually, physically, or emotionally abused. 

Marriage is one of the key ways to lower the vast divide of income inequality in America. We need to stop making the poverty crisis in America a partisan issue, and resolve these long lasting programs destroying communities

Hat Tip: American Enterprise Institute, Institute For Family StudiesThe Washington Free Beacon, The Atlantic

Image Credit: PXhere

About The Author

Mark was a co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots, and served as the national coordinator. He left the organization to work more broadly on expanding the self-governance movement beyond the partisan divide. Mark appears regularly on television in outlets as diverse as MSNBC, ABC, NBC, Fox News, CNN, Bloomberg, Fox Business and the BBC. He’s highly sought after for the tea party perspective from print and electronic media outlets, from the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, L.A. Times, Washington Examiner, Politico and the The Hill. Mark blogs at, and his opinion editorials regularly run in many of the leading political newspapers both on and offline. Mark has a BA in English from San Diego State University and graduated with honors from University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law in 1988. He practiced real estate and business law for almost a decade. For the last eleven years of his legal career he specialized in Internet advertising law. When not fighting for the future of our nation, Mark is an avid horseman, and lives in rural northern California with his wife Patty and two children.

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