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Mitt Romney: Mothers Should Be Required To Work Outside Home Or Lose Benefits

11:33 pm - 04/15/2012
Mitt Romney: Mothers Should Be Required To Work Outside Home Or Lose Benefits

Women who stay at home to raise their children should be given federal assistance for child care so that they can enter the job market and "have the dignity of work," Mitt Romney said in January, undercutting the sense of extreme umbrage he showed when Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen quipped last week that Ann Romney had not "worked a day in her life."

The remark, made to a Manchester, N.H., audience, was unearthed by MSNBC's "Up w/Chris Hayes," and will air during the 8 a.m. hour of his show Sunday.

Ann Romney and her husband's campaign fired back hard at Rosen following her remark. "I made a choice to stay home and raise five boys. Believe me, it was hard work," Romney said on Twitter.

Mitt Romney, however, judging by his January remark, views stay-at-home moms who are supported by federal assistance much differently than those backed by hundreds of millions in private equity income.
Poor women, he said, shouldn't be given a choice, but instead should be required to work outside the home to receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families benefits. "[E]ven if you have a child 2 years of age, you need to go to work," Romney said of moms on TANF.

Recalling his effort as governor to increase the amount of time women on welfare in Massachusetts were required to work, Romney noted that some had considered his proposal "heartless," but he argued that the women would be better off having "the dignity of work" -- a suggestion Ann Romney would likely take issue with.

"I wanted to increase the work requirement," said Romney. "I said, for instance, that even if you have a child 2 years of age, you need to go to work. And people said, 'Well that's heartless.' And I said, 'No, no, I'm willing to spend more giving day care to allow those parents to go back to work. It'll cost the state more providing that daycare, but I want the individuals to have the dignity of work.'"

Regardless of its level of dignity, for Ann Romney, her work raising her children would not have fulfilled her work requirement had she been on TANF benefits. As HuffPost reported Thursday:

As far as Uncle Sam is concerned, if you're poor, deciding to stay at home and rear your children is not an option. Thanks to welfare reform, recipients of federal benefits must prove to a caseworker that they have performed, over the course of a week, a certain number of hours of "work activity." That number changes from state to state, and each state has discretion as to how narrowly work is defined, but federal law lists 12 broad categories that are covered.
Raising children is not among them.


According to a 2006 Congressional Research Service report, the dozen activities that fulfill the work requirement are:

(1) unsubsidized employment
(2) subsidized private sector employment
(3) subsidized public sector employment
(4) work experience
(5) on-the-job training
(6) job search and job readiness assistance
(7) community services programs
(8) vocational educational training
(9) job skills training directly related to employment
(10) education directly related to employment (for those without a high school degree or equivalent)
(11) satisfactory attendance at a secondary school
(12) provision of child care to a participant of a community service program

The only child-care related activity on the list is the last one, which would allow someone to care for someone else's child if that person were off volunteering. But it does not apply to married couples in some states. Connecticut, for instance, specifically prevents counting as "work" an instance in which one parent watches a child while the other parent volunteers.

The federal government does at least implicitly acknowledge the value of child care, though not for married couples. According to a 2012 Urban Institute study, a single mother is required to work 30 hours a week, but the requirement drops to 20 hours if she has a child under 6. A married woman, such as Romney, would not be entitled to such a reduction in the requirement. If a married couple receives federally funded child care, the work requirement increases by 20 hours, from 35 hours to 55 hours between the two of them, another implicit acknowledgment of the value of stay-at-home work.


Romney's January view echoes a remark he made in 1994 during his failed Senate campaign. "This is a different world than it was in the 1960s when I was growing up, when you used to have Mom at home and Dad at work," Romney said, as shown in a video posted by BuzzFeed's Andrew Kaczynski. "Now Mom and Dad both have to work whether they want to or not, and usually one of them has two jobs."

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Oh. I see.
mollywobbles867 15th-Apr-2012 03:11 pm (UTC)
He has absolutely no clue how much daycare costs. My best friend wants to go back to work so she can divorce her husband, but she has a three year old and a two year old, plus an 8 year old and a 6 year old who would need daycare in the summer. She can't afford daycare for them even if she worked.

Wait, why am I using logic? He's a rich idiot who has no clue what it's like for the middle class, let alone poor people.
erunamiryene 15th-Apr-2012 03:32 pm (UTC)
Costs for daycare are fucking ridiculous. Here in Utah - where goddamn EVERYONE has kids - daycare is still as much as I paid in North Carolina (about $400-$450/month per kid). Your best friend's daycare would cost me more than I MADE per month at my last job. Holy shit.
ericadawn16 15th-Apr-2012 03:43 pm (UTC)
Plus, most childcare is still based around 9-5 jobs. How many people actually have those?
mollywobbles867 15th-Apr-2012 03:45 pm (UTC)
Exactly! And her husband often works out of town since he works in construction and he is not good with the kids at all. She's afraid to leave them alone with him because he loses his temper, which is partly why she wants a divorce.
erunamiryene 15th-Apr-2012 03:46 pm (UTC)
Right? I had one daycare that technically "opened" at 6, but if your kids had to be there between 6-8, they charged you extra. And they were technically open UNTIL 6PM, but if your kids had to be there past 5, they charged you extra. It was ridiculous.

And good luck finding ANYTHING if you work early shift work or late shift work.
deathchibi 15th-Apr-2012 09:34 pm (UTC)
Apparently, the best way to welcome new workers is make them work crappy shifts, I guess. People seem to be stuck in the 1950s where many businesses were 9-5. Those days are /over/.

belleweather 15th-Apr-2012 04:07 pm (UTC)
For full-time daycare where I am, it's $200 per week, per kid. So since I have three, it's $2400 a month to have them all in full time daycare. They'd probably give me a 10% 'sibling discount' on the second and third kid, but yeah. That's about 60% of my take-home pay as a mid-level professional with a graduate degree, and an asston of money to subsidize someone with just so they can have "the dignity of work." I'd way rather just give a parent who wants it the same amount of money to take care of their own kids, rather than giving it to daycare providers so that the parent can work at McDonalds.
alierakieron 15th-Apr-2012 04:21 pm (UTC)
400 a month sounds like a DREAM. Here it's more like 800.
erunamiryene 15th-Apr-2012 04:27 pm (UTC)
:O

JFC.
serendipity_15 15th-Apr-2012 04:39 pm (UTC)
The daycare costs per WEEK for my cousin's two children were between $100-$400 per kid a month with two children at the highest rate would cost almost as much as my COLLEGE TUITION per semester when I was in college.

Edited at 2012-04-15 08:58 pm (UTC)
recorded 15th-Apr-2012 06:48 pm (UTC)
Yeah, my sister is paying me $5/hr ($10/hr if I clean) to babysit her 3 month old. They would not have been able to afford to have a baby if I had not said I would watch her.
peace_piper 16th-Apr-2012 08:39 am (UTC)
Good god, it's depressing to read that you're literally too poor too afford children.
likeahobbit 15th-Apr-2012 04:08 pm (UTC)
I'm currently pregnant and the daycare I work at costs $1500 a month for an infant. I get half off of tuition if I send my daughter there once she is born, but even with half off tuition I can't afford to send her full time on what they are paying me.

Romney is completely out of touch. He says he'd provide more subsidies for daycare, but there is *already* not enough money to go around and things like Childcare Connections a.) take forever to be approved and pay out and b.)will drop your assistance if you start making slightly too much money or working slightly too little.
liret 15th-Apr-2012 04:33 pm (UTC)
This is why it bothers me when people insist only rich women are stay at home parents -if you don't make more then minimum wage and have more then one kid, you might not be able to afford to work. It isn't being a SAHM that's a sign of privilege, it's having the choice.
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