Forget Neera Tanden’s Tweets. What Would Her Policies Do for People Who Are Single?

None of her proposed policies ties benefits or protections to marital status.

Bella DePaulo


Photo by the National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

Of all the people President-Elect Joe Biden has chosen to fill top positions in his administration, one has become a special target of criticism and bickering. Neera Tanden is Biden’s pick to lead the Office of Management and Budget, an agency described by the Washington Post as playing “a crucial role in setting the president’s economic agenda and approving agency policies.”

Within hours, stories about the supposedly controversial nature of the Tanden pick showed up in Politico, the Hill, USA Today, Newsweek, CNN, the Huffington Post, the Daily Beast, the Washington Post, and probably many others. She’s partisan, they say. Also mentioned in just about every story: Neera Tanden has posted mean tweets — a rather ironic criticism considering the current Tweeter-in-Chief.

Shouldn’t her policy positions matter most? The 33-paragraph article in the Washington Post did not accord any more than passing attention to her policies until the 30th paragraph.

My interest is in what her policies, if implemented, might mean for people in the U.S. who are not married. In late June of 2020, a few weeks after Biden formally won the Democratic nomination, Neera Tandem published “A new social contract for the 21st century” in Democracy magazine. She was then the president of the Center for American Progress.

The most important implication for unmarried equality is that not one of her proposed policies tied benefits or protections to marital status. That’s especially noteworthy when currently, more than 1,000 federal laws benefit and protect only people who are legally married.

Health Insurance, Paid Leave, and Paid Sick Days

The theme of just about all of Tanden’s proposals is universal coverage. All Americans, she believes, should have “health insurance coverage, paid leave, and access to paid sick days.”

The Affordable Care Act, Tanden noted, increased access to health-care insurance for people who could not get it through an employer. But some people have still been…



Bella DePaulo

“America’s foremost thinker and writer on the single experience,” according to the Atlantic. SINGLE AT HEART book coming on Dec 5, 2023.