Kirsten Andersen

ObamaCare’s marriage penalty: Cohabitating couples will pay less for healthcare than married couples

Kirsten Andersen
Kirsten Andersen

WASHINGTON, D.C., November 11, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Would you pay $10,000 a year to stay married to your spouse? Some American couples are being faced with exactly that decision as they consider their health insurance options under ObamaCare.

One of the most controversial provisions of ObamaCare is that it requires all Americans to purchase health insurance, whether they want it or not, or face hefty fines. To facilitate enrollment, the government has set up health care “exchanges” in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., where people can compare and purchase insurance plans. The government has promised subsidies to help those who cannot afford the higher premiums, but the way the subsidies are calculated mean they could pay up to $10,000 more per year.

The marriage penalty is a result of the way the government calculates poverty. While the poverty line for a single person’s income is $11,490 per year or less, a married couple is considered above the poverty line if their combined income exceeds $15,510. People are eligible for subsidies under ObamaCare if they make up to four times more than the federal poverty limit – $45,960 for a single person, or $62,040 for a married couple. But unmarried couples living together will have their incomes assessed separately – meaning that as long as each of them makes less than the individual cutoff, they can remain eligible for subsidies while bringing in a joint income of up to $91,920.

In 2010, the Heritage Foundation warned of this hidden marriage penalty in a report criticizing the ObamaCare bill for its “profound anti-marriage bias.” They also pointed out that focusing on the yearly penalty misses the bigger picture: the penalty is assessed over and over again throughout the couple’s life, meaning the real cost of marriage is much, much higher.

According to the group’s calculations, a married couple who remained married throughout their lives might pay more than $200,000 in penalties under ObamaCare.

“Most people feel that marriage is a healthful institution that society should encourage and strengthen,” wrote Robert Rector, the report’s author. “Inexplicably, [ObamaCare] takes the opposite approach. At nearly all age and income levels, the bill profoundly discriminates against married couples, providing far less support to a husband and wife than to a cohabiting couple with the same income.”

Rector said that ObamaCare’s passage means that “married couples across America will be taxed to provide discriminatory benefits to couples who cohabit, divorce, or never marry.”

Leanna Baumer, a senior legislative assistant for the Family Research Council, told LifeSiteNews.com that ObamaCare’s marriage penalty is a giant step in the wrong direction, one that could negate years of hard-won tax reforms aimed at encouraging marital stability.

“Not only do these penalties discourage couples from marrying, they ignore the bipartisan work that has occurred in the past decade to decrease marriage penalties in the tax code,” Baumer told LifeSiteNews.

“Providing further disincentives for marriage means that we make family instability more likely for some couples,” Baumer told LifeSiteNews.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich told CNN it’s possible the GOP overlooked the marriage penalty during the debate over ObamaCare, buried as it was in over 11,000 pages of regulations.  "It's both an anti-marriage and pro-divorce provision,” Gingrich said.  “I don't think anybody even knew it was in there."

The threat is more than theoretical. Nona Willis Aronowitz and Aaron Cassara of New York City are one such couple. Married for four years, they told NYC’s local CBS affiliate that while they are still very much in love, they are considering divorcing, at least on paper, because staying married will cost them thousands of extra dollars per year.

“After ObamaCare has rolled out, we realized that we would save thousands of dollars if we got divorced,” Aronowitz told CBS. She explained that the two of them combined make just over $62,000 a year, which is the cutoff for health care subsidies for a married household with no children. But if they divorce, even if they still live together, their incomes will be assessed separately, making them both eligible for federal aid.

Baumer told LifeSiteNews that discouraging, or breaking up, happy marriages harms more than just couples.

“That result ultimately harms children, who have the best educational, financial, and social outcomes when they grow up in homes headed by their married mom and dad.” 

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St. Peter Damian
Steve Jalsevac Steve Jalsevac Follow Steve

St. Peter Damian (1049): what Church MUST do in response to rampant homosexuality among clergy

Steve Jalsevac Steve Jalsevac Follow Steve
By Steve Jalsevac

June 29, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – The rise of the power and influence of homosexual priests, bishops and cardinals, as well as influential laity, has been a major factor in the growing chaos within Catholicism over the past 60 years. This disorder within the Catholic Church has had a negative impact on the entire world because of the resulting decline in the positive influences that Catholicism has had on civilization for many centuries.

To think that what is happening now is new, however, betrays an ignorance of history. In 1049, when St. Peter Damian wrote his treatise, Book of Gomorrah (Liber Gomorrhianus), to Pope Leo IX, homosexuality and sexual perversion in general were far more openly rampant within the clergy than today.  This horrendous state of affairs is what the Saint addressed in his appeal to the Pope for urgently needed reforms.

We often hear from sleepy, comfortable, cowardly, timid or cultural Catholics, and especially from clergy who are directly implicated in homosexuality, that we should never criticize priests, bishops and especially the Pope. Supposedly, that is a greater sin than that of the heretics and sexual perverts facilitating great personal suffering and sending souls to Hell without anyone doing what is necessary to either convert or stop them.

St. Peter Damian was not so foolish as to listen to such nonsense denying God His justice at a time when the Church appeared to be in its death throes. He understood the grave duty to be blunt about the dangers and sinfulness, to not minimize the catastrophe that would come if strong actions were not quickly taken and to demand corrective actions. And yet, he also emphasized that all of this must be done with charity and Christian hope for the persons involved in the moral corruption. Their conversion was above all hoped and prayed for, rather than their condemnation for eternity.

An Italian translated version of the Book of Gomorrah has recently been published. An English version carefully translated by one of our LifeSite journalists will also soon become available.

On Feb. 11 of this year the Rorate Caeli website published excerpts from the introduction by Professor Roberto de Mattei to the Italian version.

Following are some paragraphs from that introduction that I hope will jar awake some of the faithful, especially considering what is going on now in the United States as a result of the mad Supreme Court decision and the moral chaos around the Synod on the Family regarding Church sexual teachings.
 

Excerpts from the Introduction:

St. Peter Damien (1007-1072) Abbot of the Fonte Avellana Monastery and subsequently Cardinal/Bishop of Ostia, was one of the most outstanding figures of Catholic reform in the XI century. His Liber Gomorrhianus, appeared around 1049, in an age when corruption was widely spread, even in the highest ranks of the ecclesiastical world.

In this writing, addressed to Pope Leo IX, Peter Damien condemns the perverted habits of his time in a language that knows no false mercy or compromises. He is convinced that of all the sins, the gravest is sodomy, a term which includes all the acts against nature and which want to satisfy sexual pleasure by separating it from procreation. “If this absolutely ignominious and abominable vice is not immediately stopped with an iron fist – he writes – the sword of Divine wrath will fall upon us, bringing ruin to many.”

There have been times in (the Church’s) history when sanctity pervades Her and others when the defection of Her members cause Her to collapse into darkness, appearing almost as if the Divinity has abandoned Her.

Peter Damien’s voice resounds today, as it did yesterday, with encouragement and comfort for those, like him, who have fought, suffered, cried and hoped, throughout the course of history.

He did not moderate his language, but kept it fiery to show his indignation. He was fearless in voicing an uncompromising hatred for sin and it was precisely this hatred that rendered his love burning for the Truth and the Good.

Today, at the beginning of the third millennium of Christ’s birth, priests, bishops and Episcopal conferences are arguing for married priests; they are placing in doubt the indissolubility of the marriage bond between man and woman and at the same time, accepting the introduction of laws for homosexual pseudo-marriage. Sodomy is not being thought of as a sin that cries to God for vengeance but is diffused in seminaries, colleges, ecclesiastical universities and even inside the Sacred Walls of the Vatican itself.

Liber Gomorrhianus reminds us that there is something worse than moral vice practiced and theorized. It is the silence that should speak, the abstention that should intervene, the bond of complicity that is established among the wicked and of those, who with the pretext of avoiding scandal are silent, and, by being silent, consent.  

Graver still, is the acceptance of homosexuality by churchmen, thought of as a “positive” tension towards the good, worthy of pastoral care and juridical protection and not as an abominable sin. In the summary Relatio post disceptationem of the first week’s work in the Synod of Bishops in October 2014, a paragraph affirmed that: “homosexual persons have gifts and qualities to offer the Christian community”, with an invitation to the Bishops “…are we capable of welcoming these people, guaranteeing them a fraternal space in our communities?”

This scandalous statement was removed from the final report, but some bishops and cardinals, inside and outside the Synod Hall, insisted on the appeal to look for the positive aspects of a union against nature, going as far as hoping for “a way to describe the rights of people living in same-sex unions.”

St. Peter Damian as a simple monk, and with greater reason as a cardinal, did not hesitate in accusing even the Popes of that time for their scandalous omissions. Will the reading of the book Liber Gomorrhianus instill the spirit of St. Peter Damien in the hearts of some prelates or laypeople, by shaking them out of their torpor and force them to speak and act?

Even if abysmally far from the holiness and prophetic spirit of St. Peter Damien, let us make his indignation against evil, ours, and with the words that conclude his treatise we turn to the Vicar of Christ, His Holiness, Pope Francis, presently reigning, so that he may intervene and bring an end to these doctrinal and moral scandals: “May the Almighty Lord assist us, Most Reverend Father, so that during the time of Your Apostolate, all of the monstrosity of this vice be destroyed and the state of the Church, presently supine, may wholly rise up again in all its vigour.”

The book can be found in Italian here. 

(Note: the name of the saint is spelled Damian in English and Damien in Italian and French. In Fr. Mattei's quotes is it spelled Damien)

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Bernadette Smyth, the head of Northern Ireland's Precious Life, speaks at LifeSiteNews' Rome Life Forum in May 2014. Steve Jalsevac / LifeSiteNews
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Victory in Ireland: Pro-life leader’s ‘harassment’ conviction overturned

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By Pete Baklinski

BELFAST, June 30, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Northern Ireland’s most prominent pro-life leader who last year was found guilty of “harassment” against an abortion facility director has had charges thrown out of court on appeal due to insufficient evidence.

“I thank God for my vindication and for helping my family and me through this horrible ordeal,” stated Bernadette Smyth, head of Northern Ireland’s leading pro-life group Precious Life, after the Monday decision that quashed the previous guilty verdict.

“Our prayers have been answered. I would like to thank the wonderful work of Aiden Carlin Solicitors and all my legal team. ‘Precious Life’ and I will continue with the work we have been doing over the last 18 years, which is to advocate for unborn children.”

Between 2012 and 2014 Smyth, 52, had been among a group of pro-life sidewalk counselors who prayed, handed out leaflets, and talked to passers-by outside the illegally operated Marie Stopes abortion facility in Belfast.

In 2014 Smyth was found guilty of “harassment” against the facility’s operator, the former politician Dawn Purvis who claimed she was intimidated by Smyth’s comments and “witchy” laughter. The legal attack came at precisely the moment when Smyth was publicly leading an effective campaign to oppose the liberalization of Northern Ireland’s abortion laws.

Smyth was ultimately handed a £2,000-fine, 100 hours of community service, and a five-year restraining order.

Smyth's lawyer challenged Purvis' claim that his client's interaction with the director on two occasions had left her in fear, pointing out in court on Monday that Purvis was a seasoned politician with a former role within the Progressive Unionist Party.

“Are you not a person with a bit more fortitude than that?" he asked.

When Smyth's lawyer asked to have the case thrown out, the judge agreed, ruling that the evidence at hand was insufficient for a successful prosecution.

“Today Judge Gordon Kerr quashed the conviction, ruling that Bernadette Smyth’s laughter outside the Marie Stopes center in Belfast was not criminal behavior and that there was insufficient evidence that Bernadette Smyth had harassed Dawn Purvis,” Precious Life stated in a press release.

Pro-life groups welcomed the news as a victory.

“We’re delighted that justice has been served and that the court has thrown out these ridiculous charges against Bernadette Smyth,” said Niamh Uí Bhriain of the Life Institute.

Uí Bhriain praised Smyth for giving her life to “supporting women in crisis and providing real assistance to mothers and babies.”

“This attempt to shut down her pro-life work was reprehensible and she should never have been dragged through the courts to face these baseless accusations.”

“Bernadette Smyth can hold her head high as the court has vindicated her good name and the important work she does to protect mothers and babies,” said Uí Bhriain. “We are delighted with today’s ruling which overturned the miscarriage of justice which saw Bernadette accused of harassment.” 

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Sofia Vazquez-Mellado

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Bishops conduct exorcism over the entire nation of Mexico to cast out demon of abortion

Sofia Vazquez-Mellado
By Sofia Vazquez-Mellado

MEXICO CITY, June 30, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – An unprecedented event took place in the city of San Luis Potosi, in Mexico, as a group of bishops performed an exorcism on the entire country.

“Mexico opened the door to the devil when we legalized abortion,” said Cardinal Juan Sandoval, Bishop Emeritus from Gualajara, who led the exorcism. “It’s the legalization of homicide,” he told El Universal.

The first ever exorcism on a whole country took place last month behind closed doors inside the Cathedral of San Luis Potosí. It was made public once Pope Francis was informed it had happened. Only one journalist, Roberto O’Farril, was allowed inside.

“Mexico is living a demonic infestation similar to the one these territories lived before the evangelization and before Our Lady of Guadalupe’s apparition,” said O’Farril in an interview with AciPrensa.

He compared abortion to the sacrifices performed by the Aztecs. “Many of those sacrifices were human sacrificies,” he continued. “Young warriors and damsels whose chests were cut open to take out the heart and offer it to these demons.”

According to renowned exorcist Fr. Jose Antonio Fortea, who was also present, an Exorcismo Magno “is useful in a situation in which great violence is unleashed in a country.”

San Luis Potosi’s Archbishop, Mons. Cabrero, explained the exorcism was done to ask “for the liberation of this strong presence of the enemy.”

“This prayer is certainly extraordinary, but it’s still a practice within the Church,” he explained in interview with AciPrensa.

Official data show 138,000 legal abortions have been performed in Mexico City since abortion was made legal there in 2007.

A recent study from the Guttmacher Institute revealed that Mexico has one of the highest abortion rates in the world, with 33 in every 1,000 pregnancies ending in abortion.

In 2013, LifeSiteNews reported the case of a man who claimed he was suffering from demonic influence because of the legalization of abortion in Mexico. Renowned exorcist Fr. Amorth confirmed the possession and tried to exorcise the man's demons, concluding the demons would leave him when the abortion law was reversed.

O’Farril, who covered this man’s case, said the demons possessing the man had said that time, “She had banished us from Mexico but your stupid laws have allowed human sacrifices to return.”

According to Sandoval, “the grave situation we are living in Mexico has a very profound root,” that goes “further than human evil, it is the devil, who is very connected to death, he’s been the murdere[r] since the beginning.”

Sandoval went on to compare the victims murdered by the cartels, who are often dismembered, to the children who are “torn apart inside their mother’s womb.”

CNN Mexico reported Sandoval might go on to perform more exorcisms in other Mexican states.  

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