“This is not a jobs bill, this is a government takeover,” Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) proclaimed on the House floor yesterday during his long-winded denunciation of President Obama’s proposed American Jobs Act. While most Republicans have limited themselves to denouncing the bill as a wasteful tax-and-spend measure that’s “class warfare” on millionaires, Gohmert found some more creative grounds for his attack.
Gohmert contemptuously pointed to tax deductions for single parents and unmarried couples as proof that the bill is actually a stealth assault on traditional marriage. The so-called jobs bill, he charged, actually encourages divorce and may even be secretly advancing a pro-gay agenda:
GOHMERT: This may be something nice he’s throwing out for gay folks that are living together so he can tell them actually you’re better off not getting married, because there’s a marriage penalty here…If you’re the head of a single household, you have an exemptions at $225,000. All other cases $200,000. So it really penalizes married individuals…But if you want to get divorced it is good news for you…the good news if you’re thinking about divorce is you can actually get divorced and have $75,000 to $100,000 higher exception. And you can even live together! This is the president’s proposal — live together and you get a higher exception than if you’re married. Now of course the founders — they all understood marriage to be between a man and a woman. [...] This president…takes a shot at traditional, conventional marriage.
Giving single parents and unmarried couples a similar tax exemption as married couples is not, of course, an assault on marriage, but an attempt to level the playing field. President Obama has, in fact, kept his promise to end marriage penalties in the tax code, in addition to extending child tax credits. Clearly, his aim is to use the tax code to help all families, married or not.
Married couples filing tax returns together have typically gotten a far greater financial benefit than people filing individually, but Gohmert has no problem with the government essentially incentiving marriage with economic inducements. Yet he thinks that giving other Americans the same exemptions is somehow encouraging immorality because people can live together without getting married. Is Gohmert concerned that the institution of marriage will unravel if there’s no longer a government kickback for walking down the aisle?