Marriage Penalty Vote

February 28, 2000

In its first major act of the new legislative session, the House of Representatives passed a $182 billion tax cut aimed at reducing the marriage penalty. The marriage penalty is the additional tax working couples pay because they are married.

The passage of the bill is a bit of a surprise since many pundits were saying that the recent victories by Senator John McCain showed that the tax cut issue has lost its edge. The overwhelming support in the House shows that this issue may still be alive.

But now the legislation goes to the Senate where its future is uncertain. The House bill does not offer any offsetting budget cuts or "loophole" closings. So it truly is a $182 billion tax cut when calculated for the next ten years. In other words, it returns some of the budget surplus to the American people.

Returning the budget surplus has been a controversial issue. If you look at the budget proposed by President Clinton, you will see that he plans to spend most of the budget surplus. The budget (over the next ten years) would set aside $2.2 trillion in Social Security surpluses and $3.7 trillion to reduce the national debt. President Clinton plans to spend the rest of the projected surplus on domestic spending initiatives.

True, the president does have something set aside in his budget for the marriage penalty. But according to a recent analysis by the Congressional Budget Office, President Clinton's budget would barely make a dent in the marriage penalty. Only a small number of the estimated 20 million married couples currently paying a marriage penalty would be affected.

At the moment, it doesn't look like many people will get a tax cut this year, and most couples will still have to pay the marriage penalty.

I'm Kerby Anderson of Probe Ministries, and that's my opinion.