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CBO: Benefits for same-sex partners would cost $310 million

By Washington Post Editor

By The Post's Federal Diary columnist Joe Davidson:

Updated 4:14 p.m. 5/18/10
The Congressional Budget Office estimates that legislation to provide fringe benefits for the same-sex partners of federal employees "would increase direct spending by $101 million over the 2010-2015 period and $310 million through 2020." Most of the increase would come from higher health insurance costs through the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program.

The estimate could jeopardize efforts to pass the bill this year, as congressional Republicans have expressed concerns about the measure's potential cost.

"CBO assumes that about 0.33 percent of federal employees would choose to register a same-sex domestic partnership if given the opportunity," the agency said in a May 11 report. "That figure is based on information previously gathered from state and local governments as well as more recent research on the experience of organizations that have adopted similar policies."

In December, Lieberman chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, which has approved the bill, cited Office of Personnel Management figures that indicated the measure would add $63 million yearly. A House committee advanced similar legislation in November.

In June, President Obama endorsed the bill when he extended some benefits to the same-sex partners of federal workers, including coverage by the long-term-care insurance program for federal employees and permission for staffers to use their sick leave to take care of their partners.

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below

By Washington Post Editor  | May 17, 2010; 5:47 PM ET
Categories:  Workplace Issues  
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Comments

so lieberman and some other senators think that equality isnt worth the cost?
why dont we drop the health benefits for any congress critter who makes more than 2 million a year (total income)?

that would be equally fair

Posted by: newagent99 | May 17, 2010 8:50 PM | Report abuse

It's a simple issue of fairness. Why should gay & lesbian workers be required to pay taxes which subsidize benefits for heterosexuals? Benefits should be offered to all employees or none.

Posted by: hfed | May 17, 2010 9:15 PM | Report abuse

This post is confusing. So Lieberman was OK passing a bill when it would cost $63 million per year, but a cost of $310 million over TEN years would "jeopardize" his support? Doesn't this mean the bill is about half the cost previously estimated?

Posted by: dss16 | May 17, 2010 9:32 PM | Report abuse

The CBO lost all credibility with its wishy-washy numbers on the health care bill...that - oh my! - the CBO now estimates costs tremendously more now...that it has passed.

I'll never pay any attention to the people behind the curtain...because they are mouthpieces of the corrupt Democrats.

Posted by: joesmithdefend | May 17, 2010 9:49 PM | Report abuse

Claiming the CBO is a mouthpiece of the corrupt Democrats is just plain dumb. The CBO is the non-partisan creation of Congress and its numbers are accepted by Republicans and Democrats both. It is just a bunch of accountants whose responsibility is to take legislation and try and figure out what its will cost. Its members are not elected and are not members of either party.

The reason why its often wrong simply reflects the reality that it is difficult to predict the future with any degree of certainty.

Posted by: reussere | May 17, 2010 10:07 PM | Report abuse

$310M over the next 10 years. That's really only $31 million per year. For perspective, the US population is 307 million people so the cost of doing the right thing is less than one cent per person per month!

Incidentally, did anyone ask the CBO how many billions of dollars gay & lesbian people pay per year in federal taxes?

I bet if the CBO did an analysis of the total taxes paid and resources consumed by the gay & lesbian community they would find that, on average, gay & lesbian taxpayers are subsidizing the care and education of other people's children.

Posted by: rwolf01 | May 17, 2010 10:46 PM | Report abuse

hfed wrote- It's a simple issue of fairness. Why should gay & lesbian workers be required to pay taxes which subsidize benefits for heterosexuals? Benefits should be offered to all employees or none.
============================
Because when I was single, I had to pay taxes, too! It is part of a system. You work where you're happy. If you're dissatisfied with your job, it is time to move on.

Posted by: Computer_Forensics_Expert_Computer_Expert_Witness | May 17, 2010 10:49 PM | Report abuse

Obviously, it has been more fiscally responsible to hire individuals who were unable to take full advantage of their federal benefits. Thankfully, those days are over and it is equally fiscally responsible for the US to hire well-qualified (straight) married applicants.

BTW -- How much does it cost for non-same-sex married couples to receive the exact same "fringe" benefits?

Posted by: McHerrin | May 17, 2010 10:50 PM | Report abuse

And this outweighs the issue of full equality for all because...?

Posted by: ravensfan20008 | May 17, 2010 11:11 PM | Report abuse

hfed wrote- It's a simple issue of fairness. Why should gay & lesbian workers be required to pay taxes which subsidize benefits for heterosexuals? Benefits should be offered to all employees or none.
============================
Because when I was single, I had to pay taxes, too! It is part of a system. You work where you're happy. If you're dissatisfied with your job, it is time to move on.

Posted by: Computer_Forensics_Expert_Computer_Expert_Witness
=============================
True, but the citizens in question are NOT single. Plus, it's difficult to "move on" when you'll receive the same unfair treatment elsewhere. You missed the point of the question, which highlighted that GLBTQ couples pay taxes which subsidize heterosexual families, but don't receive the same benefits. The question highlighted the inequality - it did not assert that GLBTQ couples shouldn't pay taxes.

Posted by: damascuspride04 | May 17, 2010 11:18 PM | Report abuse

It seems to me that this issue is coming down to benefits which will cost money. People will do anything for money. How does the government know if the people requesting benefits are really gay. Is there is blood test that says your gay. Just how does the government verify people that say they are gay? Take them for their word. You know that's not going to work.

Posted by: Bob1508 | May 18, 2010 12:50 AM | Report abuse

'Bob1508' has never worked for the federal government it looks like.

Why?

Because a married couple with no children, if they are on the same FEHB plan, are on the 'family plan', the costs of which are more than twice as much as the plan for a single person. Do you really think that people will lie and pay much more to get another person on their plan?

And even if they would, the employer (in this case, the federal government) can ask for proof, as in a joint tax filing, a marriage (or equivalent) license, etc.

Posted by: critter69 | May 18, 2010 1:28 AM | Report abuse

Under Health Care Reform, Medical insurance is a must, but you can easily find medical insurance for you under $40 http://ow.ly/1Jkvo

Posted by: anonared18 | May 18, 2010 2:22 AM | Report abuse

This is chump change compared to the cost of the "big gorilla in the room" issue. Does any else wonder why no one has asked the CBO to estimate the cost of legalizing 11 million illegal aliens on our health care, educational and welfare systems? To paraphrase the sheriff in "Jaws", you're gonna need a bigger calculator.

Posted by: jocada | May 18, 2010 7:10 AM | Report abuse

We could save even more money by eliminating benefits for interracial married couples.

Then we could save way more money by eliminating benefits for interfaith marriages.

And couples that selfishly refuse to have two kids within the first five years of marriage.

And if we really had any gumption we'd save more by eliminating benefits to couples married in a Catholic Church.

And Southern Baptists.

And Jews.

And blacks.

It's funny how the right wing fell all over themselves during gay marriage debates saying that they were all for equality for taxpaying gay Americans - that it was just the term 'marriage' that they were trying to protect.

But turns out that wasn't true. They also want to deny healthcare benefits to gay American taxpayers.

Is this really a surprise to anyone?

I'm a pretty mainstream guy. I could easily vote for a lot of Republican candidates. But it's stupidity and hatred like this that make me realize that I simply can't in good conscience vote Republican as long as they pull stunts like denying gays health care benefits.

Posted by: Hillman1 | May 18, 2010 7:19 AM | Report abuse

$310m is what, 2 F-22s?

Seems like an easy decision to me.

Posted by: reiflame1 | May 18, 2010 7:23 AM | Report abuse

"Just how does the government verify people that say they are gay? Take them for their word. You know that's not going to work. "

It's pretty simple, actually. There are all sorts of verifications that a couple is a couple. Shared living and financial arrangements. A signed statement. A domestic partnership agreement. A policy from the government stating that submitting a claim for health insurance fraudulently is a crime.

I believe quite a few state and local governments already allow gay couples to apply for benefits. And have for some time.

To my knowledge there hasn't been a significant problem with people claiming to be gay just to get health insurance.

Posted by: Hillman1 | May 18, 2010 7:23 AM | Report abuse

Homosexuals pay more taxes – per capita – than heterosexuals (when was the last time you saw a homosexual on welfare?); so why deny them the benefits? That’s absolutely ludicrous!

Posted by: BasicInstinct | May 18, 2010 7:56 AM | Report abuse

$310 million is a drop in the bucket compared to how much the government would lose if homosexuals never paid taxes. As-a-matter-of-fact; I think that because homosexuals are denied certain benefits, they should be tax-free community.

Posted by: BasicInstinct | May 18, 2010 8:03 AM | Report abuse

The fact that the government will spend far more than 310 millions dollars through 2020 to cover new heterosexual hires and their spouses, and current employees who will wed, not to mention the thousands of children that will be born to federal employees, unmasks the clear heterosexism in Lieberman's position.

Posted by: ashtonn | May 18, 2010 8:03 AM | Report abuse

But, but, BUT: Tax revenues would rise if the Feds offered DP benefits!

Why? Family benefits are a tax-free benefit for heterosexual married couples, but the employee in a same-sex partnership has to pay income taxes (federal and state) on the value of a policy that covers the partner (even in DC and states where same-sex couples can marry) ... which could work out to thousands of dollars of additional tax revenue if the Federal government started providing DP benefits.

Posted by: S1VA | May 18, 2010 8:03 AM | Report abuse

Equality is, or should be, priceless.

Posted by: 1toughlady | May 18, 2010 8:11 AM | Report abuse

The fact that the government will spend far more than 310 millions dollars through 2020 to cover new heterosexual hires and their spouses, and current employees who will wed, not to mention the thousands of children that will be born to federal employees, unmasks the clear heterosexism in Lieberman's position.

Posted by: ashtonn | May 18, 2010 8:12 AM | Report abuse

Given the hundreds of billions of dollars that get thrown around on Capitol Hill, $300 million over ten years is nothing. Did someone figure out the cost of not providing benefits for the significant others of glbt federal employees?

Posted by: JohnnyU2Berry | May 18, 2010 8:31 AM | Report abuse

And even if they would, the employer (in this case, the federal government) can ask for proof, as in a joint tax filing, a marriage (or equivalent) license, etc.

Posted by: critter69 | May 18, 2010 1:28 AM
------------------------------------------

So what about the couples that live in states that don't recognize gay marriage? No licenses for them.

Posted by: anti-elitist | May 18, 2010 8:54 AM | Report abuse

Ed you really need to clarify your post, as others have pointed out, you seem to contradict yourself, in that the CBO estimate appears to be lower than the earlier estimate cited by Lieberman. Also, are you simply speculating that somehow this is going to be harder to pass, or have you actually had a source tell you that it is going to be harder to pass?

Frankly, sort of a lazy and irresponsible post in my opinion, and not at all what we have come to expect from you. No fcats to support your opinion, and no connection between the estimate and the likelihood of passage given the reality that the figures are a drop in the bucket. If your comment about passage was a throwaway based on your opinion, it actually is quite dmaging to the bill's prospects, and that's very mean-spirited and unnecessary.

How about it? Can you clean this up and make it more factual? Can you explain your position and the apparent contradictions?

In other words, can you get it right?

Posted by: gilbert6 | May 18, 2010 9:11 AM | Report abuse

And even if they would, the employer (in this case, the federal government) can ask for proof, as in a joint tax filing, a marriage (or equivalent) license, etc.

Posted by: critter69 | May 18, 2010 1:28 AM
------------------------------------------

So what about the couples that live in states that don't recognize gay marriage? No licenses for them.

Posted by: anti-elitist | May 18, 2010 8:54 AM | Report abuse
----------------------------------
anti-elitist,

here is the full statement And even if they would, the employer (in this case, the federal government) can ask for proof, as in a joint tax filing, a marriage (or equivalent) license, etc

Notice it says marriage (OR EQUIVALANT) license. You convienantly left out the words or equivalant. Most states do recognize some form of domestic partnership.

Posted by: 6thsense79 | May 18, 2010 9:13 AM | Report abuse

We may want to look to the Fortune 500 for examples of how covering domestic partners healthcare works in the real world. A significant portion of those companies have found the benefits far outweigh the cost and, in some cases, actually lowered the overall health care costs for those companies. Look at Subaru, BP, IBM, Cisco, Eli Lilly and lots more. You might also want to look at the City of Madison Wisconsin, Washington DC, New York City and a host of other public employers who support domestic partner benefits.
It's also relevant that this would affect different-sex domestic partners as well. Heterosexual couples who live together as partners who live together as partners but who have chosen not to marry.
These employers have found that, at most, costs increase less that 1 percent to effect this kind of coverage. The benefits to productivity and morale they find far outweigh these costs. Most of these Fortune 500 companies have jumped on the bandwagon to ban discrimination themselves and to support long-term domestic partnerships because it makes good business sense. Don't we want our Federal government to reap these benefits too?

Posted by: DeanJ326 | May 18, 2010 9:18 AM | Report abuse

What is the name of this new law?
The Sodomy Subsidy Act?

Posted by: scaramouch | May 18, 2010 9:27 AM | Report abuse

I would think of this as an investment, not a cost. It's time we ended, "Religion" based prejudice and started "Humanity" based citizen equality. For pertinent discussion see the "Massachusetts Constitution". It's also true that "Marriage" is a Religous matter, but that must not deter GLBTs from dealing with their Church's decisions against them. Nor should it stop all of us
from seeking equality of Civil Partnerships with the privileges of the
Marriage Sacrament.

Posted by: bilbarnes | May 18, 2010 9:40 AM | Report abuse

I would think of this as an investment, not a cost. It's time we ended, "Religion" based prejudice and started "Humanity" based citizen equality. For pertinent discussion see the "Massachusetts Constitution". It's also true that "Marriage" is a Religous matter, but that must not deter GLBTs from dealing with their Church's decisions against them. Nor should it stop all of us
from seeking equality of Civil Partnerships with the privileges of the
Marriage Sacrament.

Posted by: bilbarnes | May 18, 2010 9:43 AM | Report abuse

Funny how the penny-pinchers always come out of the woodwork to say we dare not do anything like this that would redress injustice, even though the cost is almost negligible. The deficit hawks would have a lot more credibility in my book if they ever went after a program that THEY benefited from instead of picking on other groups.

Posted by: DCSteve1 | May 18, 2010 9:48 AM | Report abuse

Yet, if these same people decided to marry opposite sex partners, that would not be questioned nor quantified. Exactly why isn't this discrimination?

Posted by: Anglo_Rider | May 18, 2010 10:02 AM | Report abuse

Does Barney Frank have a significant other? Does he get federal benefits? Would he, if he did have a significant other? The fairest thing to do would be to discontinue family benefits for all federal employees. Think of the money it would save.

Posted by: owenaja | May 18, 2010 10:08 AM | Report abuse

Does this mean that Lieberman has decided to not allow a vote on this legislation?

Virtually nothing has been reported on these bills and time is quickly running out for this legislative session.

Unfortunately, a single senator can keep legislation from even being considered.
With so many proud homophobes in congress, I bet there would be lots of volunteers.

Posted by: devdry | May 18, 2010 10:12 AM | Report abuse

If President Obama doesn't lobby congress to pass this bill THIS YEAR and if democrats don't pass this bill THIS YEAR, it will NEVER EVER happen. Democrats beware, ignore us at your peril. If you fail us on this we will stay home in droves this November, handing victory to the devil we know.

Posted by: dem4life1 | May 18, 2010 10:14 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: dss16

This post is confusing. So Lieberman was OK passing a bill when it would cost $63 million per year, but a cost of $310 million over TEN years would "jeopardize" his support? Doesn't this mean the bill is about half the cost previously estimated?
==========================

Exactly. Either this post is missing a vital word or sentence that will better explain the gist of it... OR, Lieberman is ponying up with a few Republicans to help further lay the ground work to the Republican platform for the fall. "Dems are looking to spend more money that we don't have... you should vote to pull them out of office and put us in."

Yawn - boo - and - whatever

If this doesn't lay smack in the face of the "old guard" of Republican vs. the more modern version, in regards to equality and fairness across the board regardless of race-gender-creed-or-preference, I don't know what to tell you.

Posted by: LIKWID | May 18, 2010 10:41 AM | Report abuse

Our government continues to divide us. If it isn't race, color, or religion, it is by marital status, and now sexual preference. Then they complain because there is so much discord over the very things they classify us and divide us by. No more race, color, ethnicity, religious, sexual, marital questions on your endless government forms. You continue to divide us. We are one country of citizens...not numbers of categories.

Posted by: clairevb | May 18, 2010 10:42 AM | Report abuse

The cost of not providing benefits to partners of some federal employees is that you treat some citizens as literally worth less than others. Well done, Deputy Dawg.

Posted by: walkleftstandright | May 18, 2010 10:54 AM | Report abuse

And how much does it cost to provide health benefits for hetrosexual couples? If you are single and hetrosxual you know that if you marry you can get your spouse covered. If you are homsexual you can't. This is a matter of fairness, equality and what is right.

Posted by: mdembski1 | May 18, 2010 10:55 AM | Report abuse

why not include all the illegals in the plan,and any other whining special interest bunch that demand their share of everything for nothing.

Posted by: pofinpa | May 18, 2010 11:01 AM | Report abuse

why not include all the illegals in the plan,and any other whining special interest bunch that demand their share of everything for nothing.

Posted by: pofinpa | May 18, 2010 11:02 AM | Report abuse

As a federal employee, aren't I subsidizing health plans for my co-workers spouses and children? Where's the study that tells me how much that costs? Either remove all family coverage, or apply it evenly to all federal employees.

Posted by: CAC2 | May 18, 2010 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Gee. I wonder how much we could save if we cut benefits for African Americans, or Hispanic Americans, or women. Maybe they should set up a committee to look into that.

Posted by: parkerjm71 | May 18, 2010 12:03 PM | Report abuse

joesmithdefend wrote>>>the CBO now estimates costs tremendously more now...that it has passed.

NOT TRUE!!

May 2010
>>>From the perspective of the federal budget, the law (ObamaCare) was designed so that revenues and savings will offset new spending. Critics dispute the estimates, and some don’t like the specific revenue and savings measures contained in the legislation. But, the CBO says that the revenue and savings measures in the law will more than offset its costs, leading to a reduction in the federal budget deficit over time. (Technically, the CBO takes its revenue estimates from the Joint Committee on Taxation and incorporates them into its model.)

http://www.kff.org/pullingittogether/050510_altman.cfm

Posted by: angie12106 | May 18, 2010 12:04 PM | Report abuse

joesmithdefend wrote>>>the CBO now estimates costs tremendously more now...that it has passed.

NOT TRUE!!

May 2010
>>>From the perspective of the federal budget, the law (ObamaCare) was designed so that revenues and savings will offset new spending. Critics dispute the estimates, and some don’t like the specific revenue and savings measures contained in the legislation. But, the CBO says that the revenue and savings measures in the law will more than offset its costs, leading to a reduction in the federal budget deficit over time. (Technically, the CBO takes its revenue estimates from the Joint Committee on Taxation and incorporates them into its model.)

http://www.kff.org/pullingittogether/050510_altman.cfm

Posted by: angie12106 | May 18, 2010 12:05 PM | Report abuse

"What is the name of this new law?
The Sodomy Subsidy Act?"

What's the name of the current law?
The Vaginal Sex Subsidy Act?

Posted by: parkerjm71 | May 18, 2010 12:09 PM | Report abuse

If Senator LIEberman were actually concerned about cost, he could simply eliminate the heavily subsidized Congressional Office of the Attending Physician and have all 540 Senators, Members and Delegates choose from the same insurance plans available to all other Federal employees.

Posted by: adkinsaj1 | May 18, 2010 12:24 PM | Report abuse

lets give benefits to all polygamists too. If your issue is fairness. Another 300 million. Thats chump change. ehehheh

Posted by: niceday971 | May 18, 2010 12:29 PM | Report abuse

1. CBO is constrained to evaluating proposed legislation as presented or a question asked. Doesn't reflect reality in all cases. The recent Health Care legislation illustrates the point; it excluded the "Doc Fix" which everyone knew at over $200 Billion would bust the fiscal numbers. (i.e. greater than the "savings" of $137 Billion).

2. In the instant discussion, the big elephant question not yet asked has to do with FEGLI--life insurance for feds. Compared to the health insurance higher costs due to homosexual behavior, this one is much bigger since life expectancy for MWM is shortened by as much as 20 years--greater than the shortening of life expectancy by far than long term pack a day male smokers. So there are legitimate concerns about those that do not indulge in risky behaviors having to subsidize those that do. And since all federal health and life insurance are paid in some part by the feds, their is an additional impact on deficits and debt. And unfortunately "PAYGO" as part of the Appropriations process by Congress is ancient history, not a current practice.

Posted by: dana843 | May 18, 2010 12:31 PM | Report abuse

"The Congressional Budget Office estimates that legislation to provide fringe benefits for the partners of AFRICAN AMERICAN federal employees "would increase direct spending by $101 million over the 2010-2015 period and $310 million through 2020." Most of the increase would come from higher health insurance costs through the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program.

"The estimate could jeopardize efforts to pass the bill this year, as congressional Republicans and Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) have expressed concerns about the measure's potential cost."

Now, if someone said "African American" instead of same-sex, there would be a national uproar.

But it's seemingly OK for Sen. Lieberman to deny gay couples the same rights, to deny them the same health care, to deny them the same peace of mind, to deny their families the same financial and emotional stability...

Shame, Lieberman! Shame!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: Timmy1965 | May 18, 2010 12:41 PM | Report abuse

whats all this posting crap about dening benifits to queers.they are queer by choice.you want to be queer be queer .you are not racial minority .you deservive nothing for your crazy conduct absolutely no protections of any kind for weird actions.we will not cover a guy and gal living together so no way.you went from claiming be queer was illness to coming out of the closet for freedom of choice.now live with your stupid choice.

Posted by: dagner49 | May 18, 2010 1:15 PM | Report abuse

So the project cost to cover a domestic partner is more money than the cost of a married person? Many domestic partner healthcare benefits are "imputed wages" that the employee pays for eventually in the form of taxes..not really a "benefit" when you are getting taxed and especiallly when it the coverage costs more than a married couple. the CBO gets it back in taxes eventually . So allow gays to marry, let them be equal to a straight marriage, then everyone is treated fairly. The CBO and any coorporation that currently allows same sex domestic benefits would save money, the employee wouldn't suffer from "imputed wages" screwing up their taxes..its a win win for everyone....well not everyone if you consider the revenue Uncle Sam will lose when you can't tax the "imputed wage" many already pay to provide fro their loved one.

Posted by: cbltrse | May 18, 2010 1:49 PM | Report abuse

You're right, its just too costly! We should just ban benefits for all couples, straight or otherwise. Think of the money we would save! Or maybe just take away benefits for straight couples and only let domestic partnerships get married. Think of the savings!

Posted by: steve80 | May 18, 2010 2:10 PM | Report abuse

"What is the name of this new law?
The Sodomy Subsidy Act?
Posted by: scaramouch"

Right, because straight people never put it anywhere other than a vagina...

Posted by: steve80 | May 18, 2010 2:13 PM | Report abuse

So, rather than Lieberman and the GOP admit they're homophobic, they'll say it costs too much. Want to save money? Drop the benefits for heterosexuals.

Posted by: jckdoors | May 18, 2010 2:28 PM | Report abuse

dss16 - read again, you clearly didn't comprehend the cost part.

Posted by: okidutmsvaco | May 18, 2010 2:29 PM | Report abuse

"BTW -- How much does it cost for non-same-sex married couples to receive the exact same "fringe" benefits?" McHerrin

You got it McHerrin. As soon as I read "fringe benefits" it was pretty obvious what ol' Ed O'Keefe thinks about it. When he describes his wife's healthcare, I wonder if he calls it "fringe" benefits.

You know, those are usually benefits like a company car, or using the executive bathroom - which to Ed are apparently the equivalent to gay people's healthcare?

Posted by: 2cents3 | May 18, 2010 2:44 PM | Report abuse

I do not want tax dollars supporting same sex
marriage or support for same sex partners.

Posted by: jcjetusa | May 18, 2010 9:44 PM | Report abuse

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