Wash. Times Gets It Wrong: Extending Federal Benefits To Same-Sex Couples Won't Break The Bank

CBO Reported That DOMA Actually Costs Taxpayers

Blog ››› ››› THOMAS BISHOP

Washington Times allowed anti-gay activist Elaine Donnelly to baselessly assert that "traditional military families" would have to foot the bill for same-sex couples because the Supreme Court striking down the Defense of Marriage Act would lead to "costly" benefits for same-sex couples, a claim contradicted by studies showing negligible cost or financial benefit from the ruling.

In a July 8 Washington Times op-ed, Donnelly, president of the Center for Military Readiness -- a conservative group that has been highly critical of allowing gays to openly serve in the military --  responded to the Supreme Court striking down DOMA by claiming it will lead to a "complicated and costly"extension of benefits to same-sex spouses. While Donnelly conceded that the "Initial expenditures will involve a relatively small number of people," she went on to claim that the "impact on military families"would be "substantial":

There are no estimates of long-term costs for extending spouse and dependent benefits to a new class of beneficiaries, with or without marriage, but if the drain on funds cannot be sustained, benefits intended for families will be cut for everyone. Once again, Mr. Obama has used the armed forces to deliver on political promises to his homosexual base, and traditional military families are about to pay the bill.

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Lessons can be learned about "bait and switch" tactics and the law of unintended consequences. When administration officials promise the moon to secure passage of any far-reaching bill, such as with irreversible immigration reform, lawmakers should not surrender power to executive branch officials and federal judges who cannot be trusted. When it comes to political advantage paid for with taxpayer money, Mr. Obama's generosity knows no bounds.

However, Congressional Budget Office projections on the effects of DOMA's repeal shows that the cost to the federal government is negligible and could bring in more revenue. Fox Business' Elizabeth MacDonald wrote that striking down DOMA "could mean more money for the federal budget" due to increased revenues from taxes and less government spending on benefits. Slate elaborated on the CBO estimates reporting that "savings from less spending on means-tested entitlements would cancel out the increased cost of spousal benefits, leaving taxes as the decisive factor":

The way the federal tax code is structured, married people with similar incomes pay a "marriage penalty" while married people with disparate incomes gain a marriage benefit. CBO estimated that between these two factors you'd end up with about $400 million a year in extra tax revenue.

This is a slightly outdated analysis in two ways. One is that the tax code has changed slightly since 2004 so the revenue boost will probably be a bit bigger than that. More importantly, the Affordable Care Act created a large new means-tested program, so, relative to the new baselines, marriage will cut spending more.

DOMA also had a negative impact on same-sex families. The New York Times reported that same-sex couples were denied multiple benefits like Social Security survivor benefits, federal income tax savings, employee health insurance coverage/ taxes, flexible spending, pension benefits, and more. Written testimony by The Williams Institute (UCLA School of Law) to the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary found that DOMA actually hurts same-sex families legally and financially:

By denying same-sex couples the federal benefits and obligations that are designed to strengthen families, DOMA imposes legal, financial, social and psychological burdens on same-sex couples and their families that result in tangible harms.

The Washington Times continues to give Donnelly and the CMR a platform to attack benefits to same- sex couples in the military.   

Posted In
LGBT, Military Personnel & Veterans
Network/Outlet
The Washington Times
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