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This article analyzes the contested politics of the "marriage tax" on the eve of the Reagan Revolution. "Creating the Marriage Penalty" shows how gender and the politics of the family played a critical role in both the collapse of the Democratic coalition and the rise of the New Right. The political history of the marriage tax demonstrates the tenacity and power of the male breadwinner ideal, even to its feminist critics. This history also shows how the New Right successfully married fears of "big government" and anxiety about social and moral collapse. Far from being separate, the New Right's economic and cultural agendas depended on each other.