Government Policies and Marriage

On of the topics I have brushed on here is how the government can/should change policies in order to encourage family formation and make it easier to maintain families. Unfortunately, whenever government and policies appear in the same sentence, people may assume I’m referring t new big-government programs. This is not the case at all. In The National Review Online today, one of the authors of the study I reference below is interviewed regarding his work. In response to the question of what policy changes we should make in light of his study, he responds as follows:
I think we should give couples and families the ability to make choices about work and family that best suit their own needs. Among other things, this means adjusting the tax code so that child-care tax credits do not reward one model of organizing family and work.
I also think we can reform divorce laws so that spouses who commit themselves to marriage do not find themselves holding the bag when their spouse thinks they have fallen out of love or finds an attractive alternative. For instance, court decisions regarding child custody and property division should take into consideration the responsibility that each spouse bears for the divorce. As a matter of simple justice, innocent spouses who do not wish to divorce should not lose primary custody of their children or primary control of their property. Of course, spouses who are the victims of adultery, abuse, or abandonment should be able to get a divorce promptly.
Finally, because many of our tax and welfare policies – e.g., the Earned Income Tax Credit, Medicaid, etc. – are means-tested, they end up penalizing marriage among low-income couples with children (
see). To strengthen marriage for all Americans, federal and state policies must be reformed to stop penalizing low-income couples who are considering marriage or who wish to remain committed to their marriages.
This is exactly what I have been talking about. We really do need our lawmakers to stop claiming that every pro-business move they make is also pro-family (it may or may not be) and start looking at the nitty-gritty of what the government is already doing which makes family formation and maintenance harder than it needs to be.

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