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Marriage tax veto slap in face of couples

By By Sonny Callahan
U.S. Representative
President Clinton's recent decision to veto the Marriage Penalty Relief Act was a slap in the face to every married couple in the United States.
Today, married working couples pay an average of $1,400 a year more in taxes than two single people earning the same salaries. In Alabama alone, the marriage tax burdens 424,956 couples just for being married.
This inequity has been around for the past 40 years. However, every Congress since 1995, when Republicans assumed the majority, has tried to repeal the marriage tax penalty. Unfortunately, the president has always stood in our way with his veto pen in hand.
Unlike previous years, this year's repeal of the marriage tax came with the help of many conservative, family-oriented Democrats who joined sides with the Republican majority in supporting this reform.
Whether there are enough votes to override a presidential veto remains to be seen. After all, this is an election year and so you can only imagine the arm-twisting that will be taking place to keep from "embarrassing the president."
If enacted, the bill would provide $46 billion in tax relief to an estimated 50 million working Americans over the next 5 years, or $180 billion over ten years. The majority of the break would go to married couples making a combined income between $20,000 – $70,000 a year.
Unfortunately, President Clinton and Vice President Gore both feel this break is too risky and too expensive, despite the fact that we have more than enough tax surplus to pay for the cut.
Sadly, the administration always prefers to spend untold billions in new government programs. But let the American people keep a little more of their hard-earned income and, heaven forbid, that's a risky scheme!
While $1,400 a year isn't a lot to some people, it could make all the difference in the world for a family struggling to make ends meet.
Naturally, it's always easy to demagogue a tax cut as a "break for the rich and wealthy." That has remained the liberal battle cry against any and all tax reform, including this one.
But friends, in today's economy, a family of four making $48,000 shouldn't be punished simply by labeling them "rich."
It will be interesting to see how the override vote goes when it is taken up, most likely in early September.
An overwhelming majority of Americans, both single and married, say they feel a tax on marriage is fundamentally unfair.
This has been confirmed in poll after poll and shows up regardless of your party affiliation.
I'll keep you posted on the eventual outcome. Meanwhile, if you agree that a tax on marriage is unfair, you ought to call or e-mail the president and let him know how you feel.
While it won't change the outcome of his veto, it will send a loud message that on this issue, he is out of touch with the American people.
Until next week, take care and God Bless.