David R. Usher
Marriage vs. the individual health care mandate
By David R. Usher
February 10, 2012

Forty-five years ago Daniel Patrick Moynihan warned us about what would happen if Johnson's Great Society was established. Today, America is drowning in social expenditures and medical expenses — most often incurred for lower-income unmarried individuals, their children, and unmarried retirees.

Today, illegitimacy is 72.3 percent for blacks, 52.5 percent for Hispanics and 28.6 percent for whites. Almost none have health insurance. Many elderly lower-income unmarried individuals have no access to health care and could not afford it even if they did.

Most Republicans object vehemently to Obama Care, but believe that the "individual mandate" (a requirement that one must buy health care insurance or face civil or criminal penalty) is viable at the state level.

Trading a federal-level individual mandate for a state-level one is not a victory. It would be the greatest expansion of the welfare state in history, which cost America something in the neighborhood of $1.2 trillion in 2011 (also driving deficit spending at the state level).

Passing the buck is not an answer. There is nowhere to pass it to. We are faced with a decision already determined by unaffordability: Marriage vs. socialized health care.

Fact: Married couples are three times more likely to be insured than unmarried couples. [1] Marriage doubles the chances that a family has access to an employer health insurance plan, provides two income streams to pay for it, and in-home care at no cost. Married individuals and their children are healthier ,[2] happier, live longer, and have lower health care costs. [3][4]

But there is one issue more important than chronic-phase socialism or basic marriage economics: The individual mandate does not pass constitutional muster at either state or federal levels.

The individual mandate is unconstitutional at both the state and federal levels because it is a tax on being alive. There is no constitutional foundation permitting any governmental body in the United States to require citizens to purchase something merely because they are alive.

The individual mandate is a dangerous precedent abrogating the Declaration of Independence. It turns the Fifth Amendment on its head, depriving individuals of due process rights to life, liberty, and property by making life itself a prosecutable economic and criminal offense. It is an attempt to license the act of living itself.

Judge Robert Dierker, author of the Tyranny of Tolerance, agrees with my analysis:
    "The mandate unquestionably is a deprivation of liberty and property without due process, since it purports not to rely on the taxation power but, as you point out, it punishes people simply for being, unless they submit to the mandate ... one could argue that the mandate creates a 'status offense' ... such laws have been struck down on due process/liberty grounds."
Comparisons to automobile insurance fail. Driving an automobile is not a fundamental right. It is a privilege for which states can require insurance in order to exercise.

So, how do we resolve the health care crisis?

Our past failure to apply Marriage Economics in policy has left America in cultural and economic ruins. Moynihan accurately predicted that Great Society economic policy would destroy the culture. It did. The answer? Retool the economic policy. The culture, budget surpluses, and morals will reappear.

Marriage Economic Policy offered by the Center for Marriage Policy [5] has been the missing economic component for decades. The word "economy" comes from the Greek word ïἰêïíüìïò, meaning "one who manages the household." The inventions of macroeconomics and the corporation since ancient times does not diminish the structural importance of marriage fundamental to American economic success.

We must finish the two (and most important) goals of welfare reform not addressed in the 1996 legislation: reducing illegitimacy and improving marriage rates. Our multifaceted policy approach will end the majority of our deficit spending problem [6] without bedlam in the Congress, state legislatures, or streets — without forcing individuals to marry.

Every marriage provides a "marriage spread" — a double-benefit converting individuals from liabilities to assets:
  • The majority of health care coverage problems and losses will abate, and the medical and insurance industries will have far less governmental interference.

  • Married couples retire on two to three times the assets. [7] They are more able to afford private insurance, resolving the most serious actuarial problems of Medicaid. [8][9]

  • Marriage will improve payments into the social security system.

  • We will see a significant decrease in home foreclosures and serious financial sector problems. [10]

  • The disappearing middle class will reappear.

  • Teachers will no longer be blamed for poor test scores because they are unable to raise half the class to make it teachable. [11] More students will succeed in school and mature into the work force that American corporations are now outsourcing for lack of qualified candidates.

  • We will see an end to class, poverty, and racial warfare. Nearly 75% of poor mothers will be lifted out of poverty. [12] The discontented poor will have the social fabric and economic strength to establish naturally-sustaining and safe communities.

  • Changes in welfare policy will discourage illegal immigration and diminish the anchor baby problem.

  • The need for abortion will decline. When marriage is important, abortion is not something most women are interested in.

  • Fewer women will be interested in same-sex cohabitational arrangements, and same-sex marriage will no longer be a powerful feminist issue.

  • We can come close to balancing the federal budget, and states can balance their budgets without pain or difficult choices. [13]
Read our deficits: We have one choice left. We must apply Marriage Economic Policy to restore marriage as the social norm or face long-term slow growth paired with escalating long-term fiscal and political crises, and continuing evisceration of Constitutional Law.


[1]  Wall Street Journal Marketwatch, Unmarried couples more likely to be uninsured,

[3]  U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, The Effects of Marriage on Health. June 2007

[4]  The Manhattan Institute City Journal, Why Marriage Is Good For You, Autumn, 2000., by Maggie Gallagher

[6]  The Phyllis Schlafly Report, The High Costs of Marriage Absence, November 2011

[7]  Ibid., 4

[8]  Family Research Council, Sermon on Marriage and Divorce, by Mike McManus

[9]  The Center for Marriage Policy, 10 Marriage Values Policies to Rebuild America

[10]  The St. Louis Political Buzz Examiner, October 21, 2011, Marriage Policy becomes focus to alleviate big government ills

[11]  Heartland Education News, For Strong Education and Economy, Legislators Must Strengthen Marriage, January 14, 2012, by Cynthia Davis and David R. Usher

[12]  National Review, Poor Politics, by Robert Rector, August 27, 2007

[13]  Family Research Council, Our Fiscal Crisis: We Cannot Tax, Spend, or Borrow Enough to Substitute for Marriage, by Henry Potrykus, Patrick Fagan, Robert Schwarzwalder

© David R. Usher


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
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