Linnabary: The Case for The Family Security Act


Emily Christensen

(Graphic by Emily Christensen | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Ian Linnabary, Opinion Writer


The American family is in crisis. One of America’s most robust social institutions has started fading away. Marriage rates steadily decline, and the phrase “broken family” — referring to any family without a married couple with related children — can describe too many families.

The current financial safety net for many families doesn’t sufficiently accommodate married couples with children, with some federal programs even containing marriage penalties. A strong married family unit has been thought to help financial and social mobility.

We are also witnessing rates of child poverty rise in the United States, due in part to the increase in broken families. Furthermore, our current system is also not fiscally efficient, with many programs containing several overlapping benefits, causing wasteful spending on operational inefficiencies.

The U.S. needs to see comprehensive family and child welfare reform. The current federal system that supports many families and children is outdated, as it hasn’t seen comprehensive revision since 1996.

We can and should do a better job supporting American families and reducing child poverty. Sen. Mitt Romney’s Family Security Act offers a new vision for how we support families in the U.S. in a way that reduces child poverty and encourages marriage, all while being fiscally responsible.

Compared to policy prescriptions such as President Joe Biden’s Child Tax Credit, Romney’s plan simply delivers more aid while also being more fiscally efficient. Breaking down the numbers in this monthly benefit, we see that it does more for families, with the plan’s monthly child benefit providing $4,200 a year for children ages 0 to 5 and $3,000 ages 6 to 17. This benefit applies even before a child is born. Four months before a child’s due date, a family can receive $1,250. This benefit would help many families get ahead when raising their children.

The Family Security Act would also reform the Earned Income Tax Credit by simplifying dependent-related benefits. The plan provides $1,000 to single filers and $2,000 for joint filers, with an additional $1,000 for filers with dependents. This creates a more efficient and less burdensome system. Instead of passing out benefits based on income level, number of dependents and marital status, we open up more benefits to families with married couples, whereas before they would have lost benefits for getting married. We need to stop paying single parents to stay unmarried and take low wages when they otherwise wouldn’t have to.

This plan could potentially lift three million children out of poverty, all while maintaining a neutral budget. The program would eliminate unnecessary programs and benefits such as the SALT tax deduction, Head-of-Household status, and the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program.

The Family Security Act consolidates and streamlines all of the benefits provided by these sometimes overlapping programs. Furthermore, programs like TANF contain marriage penalties. For example, if a mother lives with the biological father of her children or her husband, both incomes count towards the welfare benefits, which could disqualify them. But if she lives with a partner who is not the father, his income wouldn’t count towards the benefits. This rule does more to create broken families. By replacing such programs, we open benefits up to more families, allowing people to marry and still receive benefits.

Our endless war on child poverty has not been working. We need to start approaching child poverty in a new way. We must understand incentives and change rules that discriminate against married families in our welfare system. Sen. Mitt Romney’s Family Security Act is an excellent example of what our welfare system should look like.


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