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U.S. News Archive
January 01 - January 06, 2001



This page contains news for the period January 01, 2001 through January 06, 2001.  

<<   January 2001  >>

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Friday, January 5, 2001

House freshmen line up to support 'marriage penalty' reform bill

A story published today by Reuters reports that freshmen Republicans in the House of Representatives have begun a drive for a popular tax cut eliminating the marriage penalty, saying it would erase one of the most unfair provisions in the tax code.

Twenty-eight freshmen Republicans said they backed a bill sponsored last year by Rep. Jerry Weller, an Illinois Republican who sits on the House Ways and Means Committee, that would double the standard deduction for married couples who do not itemize their tax returns and widen the 15 percent tax bracket for couples that do.

Eliminating the marriage penalty enjoys widespread support and many Republicans want to push the popular tax cut through Congress as a stand alone measure rather than as part of President-elect George W. Bush's sweeping $1.3 trillion tax cut package.

Similar legislation passed the House and Senate last year but was vetoed by President Clinton who said the cut went too far, giving breaks to couples who do not suffer a penalty but get a tax bonus from being married. Many working couples pay more in taxes than they would if they were single, but some couples, usually with only one spouse working, pay less than they would if single.

A summary of how President-elect Bush's tax cut plan would affect single people

The following summary of President-elect Bush's tax cut package, estimated at $1.3 trillion over 10 years by the congressional Joint Committee on Taxation was summarized by the Associated Press today.  The cost  would reach at least $1.6 trillion in the 10 years beginning with 2002, the period covered by current surplus projections.

Bd14565_.gif (183 bytes) Child Credit: Gradually increase the $500 child tax credit to $1,000 by 2006.  This would benefit all working parents, including single parents.  This proposal would also raise the adjusted gross income limit for married couples filing jointly from $110,000 to $200,000. Cost: $162.3 billion.

Bd14565_.gif (183 bytes) Tax Rates: Reduce and simplify income tax rates by 2006. Current rates are 15 percent, 28 percent, 31 percent, 36 percent and 39.6 percent. New rates would be 10 percent, 15 percent, 25 percent and 33 percent. This would benefit all workers, regardless of marital status.  Cost: $727.4 billion.

Bd14565_.gif (183 bytes) Marriage Penalty: Allow a 10 percent deduction for two-income families up to $6,000 of the lower-earning spouse's income. Income cap would rise to $30,000 by 2006. Cost: $87.7 billion.

Bd14565_.gif (183 bytes) Estate Tax: Gradual repeal over eight years. This would have the effect of removing marital status discrimination in current law which allows an unlimited transfer of wealth to a surviving spouse without the imposition of any tax at the time of transfer.  Under current law, the estates of single people in the same economic level are taxed between 30% to 60% at the time of their death.  Cost: $236.2 billion.

Court says father can have Internet visits with daughter when mother relocates out of state

A story published today in the Associated Press reports that a state appeals court has ruled that a divorced woman can move with her daughter to California and rely on the Internet to help the girl keep in touch with her father back in New Jersey.

The ruling appears to be the first in New Jersey -- and perhaps anywhere in the United States -- in which a court allowed the Internet to be used as a visitation tool, said the mother's lawyer, John J. D'Anton.

Kyron Henn-Lee's former husband had objected when she told him she wanted to take their 9-year-old daughter, Katherine, from New Jersey to Brea, Calif., and build a Web site for father and child to communicate.

But a three-judge panel of the Appellate Division of New Jersey's state Superior Court said the Internet would provide a ``creative and innovative'' way for Thomas J. McCoy and his daughter to keep in touch.

Under the ruling, the Internet visits through a Web site with video capability will not cost McCoy any of the 66 days he is entitled to spend with his daughter in-person each year.

The appeals reversed a trial court judge's ruling that denied Henn-Lee's request to take Katherine to California.

David Levy, president of the Children's Rights Council, an advocacy group for children of divorce, said the New Jersey ruling is the first one in the United States to involve Internet visitation.


Thursday, January 04, 2001

Unmarried students can be required to live in co-ed dorms at Yale

A story published today in the Bergen Record reports that four Orthodox Jewish students who said a sexually immodest atmosphere at Yale University's coed dormitories violated their religious beliefs have lost a court challenge.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected claims that Yale discriminated against the students or violated federal antitrust law by requiring unmarried freshmen and sophomores under age 21 to live on

Some of the students got around the rule by living in off-campus apartments but still paying Yale more than $6,800 for their unused dorm rooms. They sued to get refunds and exemptions to the housing policy.

The Orthodox students said a sexually permissive atmosphere in the dorms went against their religious code of chastity and modesty.

Freshman live in dorms where the sexes are divided by floor. Sophomores live in single-sex suites, where members of the opposite sex often live next door and sometimes share bathrooms.

The students claimed the policy violated the anti-discrimination Fair Housing Act by requiring them to live in housing that was against their religious beliefs.

Two judges on the three-judge panel ruled that the students had failed to prove that Yale intentionally discriminated against them. They also said the Fair Housing Act did not apply, since its purpose "is to promote integration and root out segregation, not to facilitate exclusion."

The third judge said the Fair Housing Act complaint should go back to a lower court for a hearing on the merits.

Only half of teens keep promise to abstain from sex until marriage

A story published today by the Associated Press reports that the growing fad of teens promising to delay sex until marriage is having mixed results.  

Just saying no to sex may work for a while. A study found that teen-agers who publicly pledged to remain virgins until marriage delayed having sex about 18 months longer than other teens.  But at least half of abstinence promisers break the pledge by the age of 20.

Among those who formally promised to avoid unmarried sex, about 50 percent remained virgins until about age 20, said Peter S. Bearman, a Columbia University sociologist and co-author of a study in the American Journal of Sociology.

Among nonpledgers, he said, 50 percent were no longer virgins by age 17.

Bearman and his co-author, Hannah Brueckner, a sociologist at Yale University, analyzed the effect of virginity pledges on the behavior of teen-agers enrolled in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, a federally funded survey of children in the seventh through 12th grades.

Data from the study suggested that by 1995 a church-led, voluntary effort had prompted about 2.5 million teen-age boys and girls to make spoken or written pledges to refrain from sex until marriage.

In their study, Bearman and Brueckner analyzed data from interviews of 20,000 teen-age virgins in 1994 and 1995. A follow-up survey in 1997 included 14,000 of those in the original study.

Bearman acknowledged that some of the characteristics that would lead kids to make the abstinence pledge would have led them to avoid early sex anyway. But even when the researchers made statistical allowance for these factors, "there was an additional delay added by the pledge," he said.

The story says that the virginity pledges seemed to have the greatest effect on those who took the oath at age 16 to 17, while there was little effect found for those pledging at 18 or older. The effect of pledging earlier, at age 14 or 15, depended on the students' social environments, the study found.

Ironically, Bearman said the more popular taking the pledge becomes in a school, the less effective it becomes. The maximum effect, he said, comes when about 30 percent of students in a school pledge. As the total reaches 40 and 50 percent, the pledge effect is eroded.

In effect, he said, as soon as the virginity pledge becomes too common "and something that everybody does," the persuasive, social impact is lost.

For the whole study group, Bearman cited a "significant" difference between the percentage of pledgers and
nonpledgers who remained virgin through their teen years.

At age 17, half the nonpledgers had initiated sex, while 65 percent of the pledgers were still virgin. At 18, 32
percent of nonpledgers were virgins, compared to 54 percent of the pledgers.

Bearman said he doesn't know how many of the teens actually fulfilled their pledge to refrain until marriage. That may become clear in a follow-up study planned next year.

Another part of the study found that when pledgers break their promise and first engage in sex, they are more likely to do so without using a contraceptive. Bearman said this is not surprising, since it would be illogical for a student both to pledge abstinence and to carry a contraceptive.

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