Wednesday May 19, 2010

CBO: Senate Same-sex Partner Scheme Ups Gov’t Spending $700 million in 10 Years

By Peter J. Smith

WASHINGTON, D.C., May, 19, 2010 ( – Shelling out federal benefits to same-sex couples under a proposed U.S. Senate bill will cost U.S. taxpayers a whopping $704 million over the next ten years, reports the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO). Nevertheless the Senate proposal, while it obscures the traditional rationale for spousal benefits in the first place, would be less costly than the House version.

The CBO has just released its analysis of the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act of 2009 (S. 1102) revealing that extending health and employment benefits to the domestic partners of homosexual federal employees – both active and retired – would lead to a direct spending increase of $310 million over the next decade – $101 million between 2010-2015 – and discretionary spending would also increase $394 million by 2020.

Besides health insurance, the measure would provide same-sex partners survivor annuities, compensation for work-related injuries, and travel and relocation benefits – all benefits traditionally afforded to the married spouses of federal employees taking care of their families.

However, the massive expenditures would go to support only a miniscule percentage of the federal government’s workforce. CBO estimates that approximately 0.33 percent of federal employees would choose to register a same-sex domestic partnership if given the opportunity. CBO predicts that for those individuals eligible under the proposal, approximately 80 percent would switch from single to family health coverage, and that 85 percent “would elect a survivor benefit for a domestic partner.”

The CBO estimates that the biggest cost would come from extending the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program to homosexual couples, describing it as “the largest increase in both mandatory and discretionary spending – $294 million and $355 million, respectively.”

The Senate bill looks quite trim when compared to the proposal under consideration in the U.S. House of Representatives (H.R. 2517), which was introduced by Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), an open homosexual. In terms of direct, mandatory spending, the House bill would cost about $590 million over the next decade. Add on discretionary spending, and the price tag for the House bill jumps to $898 million.

Advocates for homosexual partners to receive federal benefits have argued that denying benefits amounts to unjust and even arbitrary discrimination based on sexual orientation or identity. However, opponents contend those charges miss the mark: married persons, in general, are oriented toward begetting and raising children, while the same does not apply to homosexual couples. They say the point and purpose of those benefits should be to assist a married employee financially in the growth and maintenance of his dependent family, especially since the spouse rearing the children may have partial, or in some cases, complete dependence upon him as a provider.

The real hike in discretionary spending, which has to be paid for by appropriations bills, will be in health care. CBO notes that the federal government pays for about 70 percent of its employees health-care premiums. It expects that by 2011 family coverage policies for active federal employees “are projected to cost the federal government approximately $6,000 more than individual coverage policies.”

CBO estimates that the Senate bill will provide additional family coverage policies to approximately 4,000 non-Postal Service employees that would choose to cover their domestic partners. That means the federal government’s spending will increase by $355 million over the 2011-2020 period, as long as Congress appropriates the funding.

Both S. 1102 and H.R. 2517 still await votes in Congress. President Barack Obama has indicated his support for legislation extending benefits to homosexual partners and would likely sign the measure into law if passed by Congress.

CBO’s analysis of the Senate bill is based on the assumption that the legislation would be passed late 2010.

The analysis can be found here:

See related coverage by

U.S Taxpayers Would Pay Over $898 Million Over 9 Years for Federal Benefits to Same-Sex Couples


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