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“Real Mothers Vs Moochers”: Is Motherhood The Most Important Job?

It can be hard to remember a mere six months ago, but that was when we were talking about the hard work mothers perform in the home and how valuable it is. A recap: Democratic surrogate Hilary Rosen said that Ann Romney, who is a stay-at-home mother, has never worked a day in her life. In the blink of an eye, both sides jumped on the moment to declare their undying fealty to mothers and their awe at the hard work women perform in the home. Romney even went so far as to say that Ann’s job was “harder” and “more important” than his own, be it running the state of Massachusetts or the Olympics. (Although he never explained why he didn’t simply trade places with her.)

Someone watching this debate couldn’t be blamed for coming away with the impression that this country has put motherhood on a gold-plated pedestal. But it turns out that pedestal is contingent on certain factors—class being chief among them. A Pennsylvania House bill proposed last week sought to limit the amount of TANF assistance—formally known as welfare support—that low-income women receive based on how many children they give birth to while covered. In other words: the more children a woman on welfare has, the fewer benefits she receives.

The good news is that three sponsors of the bill have since backed away from it, claiming to not have read it closely enough. The bad news is that Pennsylvania was simply following a trend. At my request, Joan Entmacher of the National Women’s Law Center calculated that as of July 2010, seventeen states had “family cap” policies that limit the amount of TANF assistance available to mothers who have children while receiving benefits. When Ann Romney stays at home to raise her five boys, financed by her family’s wealth and income, we revere her as the pinnacle of womanhood and a hardworking American. When a poor mother has five boys, we punish her by denying her the benefits she needs to keep them healthy and happy.

Unfortunately the horror doesn’t stop there. What about a woman who is raped and then bears her rapist’s child while on TANF? Should she have her benefits decreased? Pennsylvania, in its magnanimity, granted that this woman shouldn’t be docked. She just has to give the state a signed statement that she was a victim of rape or incest and that she reported the crime and the identity of her offender to law enforcement. (Never mind that over half of all rapes are never reported given the stigma and ordeal victims are put though.) She also has to sign a statement affirming that she understands that “false reports to law enforcement authorities are punishable by law” and that lets her know the state will report “evidence of false statements or fraud” to the correct department. As summarized by Jake Blumgart: “State Reps to Poor Women: Prove You Were Raped or Lose TANF Assistance.”

Once again, Pennsylvania is sadly not alone. Many states require parents to cooperate with child support enforcement to receive childcare assistance, often to establish paternity and provide accurate information. Last month, the Children, Youth and Families Department of New Mexico decided to pull a Todd Aiken and considered an amendment to this policy that would exempt victims of “forcible rape” from having to file child support claims against the absent parent. And even worse, a bunch of states already use this language. According to Entmacher, at least four states list forcible rape as one potential reason for an exemption: Colorado, Idaho, Maryland and Rhode Island, with varying levels of detail about how a woman should go about proving that her rape is “legitimate.”

In the motherhood hierarchy, then, women who don’t need welfare support rank highest, followed by mothers who can “prove” that their rape is rape rape. Tough luck for low-income women who were date raped, raped when drugged or simply had a wanted child. Our message to them is that they’re not really mothers. They’re just moochers.


By: Bryce Covert, The Nation, October 29, 2012

October 30, 2012 Posted by | Women | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“It’s Mitt’s Time”: The Romney’s Display A Remarkable Sense Of Entitlement

I found Ann Romney calling the Hilary Rosen controversy “a birthday present” a little odd. The outrage machine ginned up the culture war to defend Ann’s “choice” to stay at home, but she’s telling us she enjoyed it? She wasn’t really hurt and offended? If the president had declared a “war on moms,” as Republicans claimed, could she really experience that as “a birthday present”? Is it really all about Ann?

On “The Ed Show” last night I said it revealed Ann Romney’s sense of entitlement, that she would call such apoplexy “a birthday present.” But I hadn’t even heard the most entitled part of her interview with ABC’s Diane Sawyer, in which she exclaims, “It’s Mitt’s time. It’s our turn now.” In the same interview, her husband told Obama to “start packing,” rather presumptuously (who orders around the president?), but Ann Romney declaring “It’s our turn now” is even worse. Ann, the voters will decide that. Don’t order the car elevator for the White House quite yet.

On CNBC Tuesday night, the candidate himself sat down with former Reagan staffer Larry Kudlow for a mostly admiring interview. Although it was interesting that after Romney got through slamming the Obama administration for “scaring” American businesses and generally wrecking the economy, Kudlow asked him to explain why the stock market is soaring. “Right now what you’re seeing in stock prices is the fact that businesses are profitable,” Romney acknowledged. Despite Obama, of course.

But Romney had one of his great Romney moments when Kudlow asked him if he thought the gains would continue. He tried to quote Yogi Berra, you know, like a regular Joe. Here’s how it came out:

I’m not going to predict the direction of the stock market. I–you know, I always like to quote the Yogi Berra line or as close to it as I can, which is that Yogi Berra said, in effect, that he doesn’t like making predictions, particularly if the future’s involved.

“Yogi Berra said, in effect” is a perfect example of how not to quote Yogi Berra. That’s old Mitt winging it.


By; Joan Walsh, Editor at Large, Salon, April 17, 2012

April 18, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“So Much For The Phony Outrage”: Ann Romney Says Rosen’s Attack Was A ‘Gift,’ ‘I Loved It’

While the Romney campaign’s outrage machine was cranking on all cylinders last week over CNN contributor Hilary Rosen’s comments on Ann Romney’s wealth, the victim of Rosen’s barb doesn’t seem too offended — in fact, she’s thrilled. At a closed-door fundraiser last night, Ann Romney revealed that she saw the jab as a political “gift,” NBC News’ Garrett Haake reports:

Mrs. Romney acknowledged Republicans’ deficit at present with female voters, and urged the women in attendance to talk to their friends, particularly about the economy. She also discussed the criticism she faced this week, and her pride in her role as a mother.

It was my early birthday present for someone to be critical of me as a mother, and that was really a defining moment, and I loved it,” Mrs. Romney said.

In case the phoniness of the Romney campaign’s response to “Rosen-gate” wasn’t obvious enough already, Ann Romney’s glib political calculation should make it clear.

Behind closed doors, Rosen’s comments were a “gift.” In public, Ann and her allies were deeply offended by the slight from Rosen (who is on the Center for American Progress Action Fund’s board). “Now that does bother me,” Ann said in a Fox News interview responding to the jab. On a conference call organized by the Romney campaign, female Republican lawmakers tried to outdo each other in expressing their offense and outraged at Rosen’s comments.

Discussing Ann Romney’s comment this morning, CNN’s Soledad O’Brien remarked, “It made it sound like it was about strategy and not about ‘what a great opportunity’ to talk about my family. It was more like, ‘Wow, I was able to score political points on an issue that could help my husband win.’”

By: Alex Seitz-Ward, Think Progress, April 16, 2012

April 16, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

‘”The Indignity Of Mitt”: Romney Says “Dignity Of Work” Only Available To Women In The Paid Workforce

Chris Hayes has turned up the video of a speech made by Mitt Romney in New Hampshire this past January where he spoke of his efforts, while serving as governor of Massachusetts, to force all mothers receiving government aid to get out of the house and into the workforce—or lose their benefits.

It wasn’t about the money. Romney calculates that getting these mothers to leave their kids and enter the workforce would actually cost the state more through the increased costs of providing day care for the children of these working mothers.

No, Romney had a higher goal in mind —he wanted these stay-at-home mothers to know the ‘dignity of work‘.

I know. Was it not Governor Romney who spent this past week exhorting the great dignity and hard work done by moms who elect to stay home and raise their kids? How does that square with his speech which touts his long-held view that certain stay-at-home mothers can only learn the dignity of work by getting out of the house and leaving the daytime care of their children to others?

Speaking to the New Hampshire audience, this is what the Governor had to say:

“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.’”

I thought that if anything had been established through the eruption caused by CNN pundit Hillary Rosen’s poorly chosen words earlier this week, it was that there is, indeed, immense dignity in the work of stay-at-home moms. So said the President, the First Lady and the one-time First Lady of Massachusetts—Ann Romney.

And, for what it is worth, so say I.

The Governor’s suggestion that there is dignity in the work done by women who stay home to raise their kids (this week’s meme) but, apparently, only when they have sufficient financial resources to do so, completely proves the point Ms. Rosen sought to make—even if her comments were inartfully uttered.

Rosen was not demeaning the importance of full-time parents and everyone knows that. She was, however, pointing out that Mrs. Romney might not have the best perspective when it comes to the difficulties of wanting to be a full-time mother when forced, as a result of financial reality, to enter the workforce.

Where Rosen appears to have gone wrong is in directing her comments toward Mrs. Romney rather than at her husband, the Candidate. I say that because I strongly suspect that Ann Romney ‘gets it’. I strongly suspect that Mrs. Romney does understand the difficulties faced by many women who want to commit themselves to raising their kids but need to earn a living to put a roof over the kids’ heads.

It’s Ann Romney’s husband who appears to not have a solid grip on what he believes in this regard, or is—yet again—simply changing his pitch to fit what he believes to be the winning narrative of the day.

If you believe that women whose families do not earn enough to support their families without government assistance should enter the workforce, that’s fine. And if you believe that women who choose to stay home and be a full-time mother is certainly a difficult and meaningful job—that’s fine too.

If you further believe, as most sensible people do, that being a full time mother is a noble and hugely worthwhile profession that can be disrupted when circumstances require that mom go to work to pay the bills, then welcome to the real world.

None of these options are the point.

The point is that Governor Romney’s desire to have it both ways on virtually any topic appears to be endless. He simply cannot tout the notion that a woman staying home to raise her children is the work equivalent of going to the office each day (which it certainly is) and then, out of the other side of his mouth, argue that stay-at-home moms with small children must get into the workforce as the only means of experiencing the ‘dignity of work.’

Mrs. Romney has it right on this issue. The experience of women who commit their lives to raising their families most certainly know the dignity of hard work. It is her husband who has it wrong. Unfortunately, it is Mrs. Romney’s husband who would like to be President of the United States.

Maybe we should waste this week in the campaign by asking Governor Romney to explain his contradictory perspectives?


By: Rick Ungar, Contributor, The Policy Page, Forbes, April 15, 2012

April 16, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“A Legitimate Point”: Ann Romney’s Not Your Typical Working Woman

Hilary Rosen made a legitimate point the wrong way.

Rosen — a Democratic activist, CNN commentator and, full disclosure, friend of Ruth — was talking about Mitt Romney’s move to deploy his wife as official ambassador to the land of women.

“Guess what?” Rosen said. “His wife has actually never worked a day in her life. She’s never really dealt with the kinds of economic issues that a majority of the women in this country are facing.”

Awoogah. Awoogah. Repeat after me: The acceptable formulation is “work outside the home.”

As Rosen, mother of two, well knows — and was reminded with Twitter speed Wednesday night — staying at home with the kids is the very definition of hard work. A day at the office, with no sticky little hands tugging at you, can feel like a vacation.

And Ann Romney, as she reminded us in the campaign video that touched off Rosen’s comments, stayed home with five boys. Six, she said, if you count Mitt. “Believe me, it was hard work,” Ann retorted in her first ever tweet.

But Rosen’s fundamental point — that Ann Romney’s experience is far from typical, that she has not grappled with the economic and family issues that face many women today — remains true.

You don’t have to be a combatant on either side of the Mommy Wars to recognize that Ann Romney’s privileged life experience is not typical. She’s never had to worry about the price of a gallon of gas as she filled up the Cadillacs. She is at the tail end of a generation that did not agonize over the choice of whether to stay home with the kids and from an economic platform that gave her the luxury of making that choice.

As Rosen wrote later on the Huffington Post, “Nothing in Ann Romney’s history as we have heard it — hardworking mom she may have been — leads me to believe that Mitt has chosen the right expert to get feedback on this problem he professes to be so concerned about.”

In some ways, the most interesting aspect of Rosen’s comments was the swiftness with which the Obama campaign moved to criticize them — this after Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom quickly posted video of Rosen’s remarks and incorrectly describing her as an “Obama adviser.”

Actual Obama adviser David Axelrod pronounced himself “disappointed” in Rosen and termed the remarks “inappropriate and offensive.” Actual Obama campaign manager Jim Messina out-tweeted him: “I could not disagree with Hilary Rosen any more strongly.” Really? I can think of a lot of things that I’d disagree with more strongly. “Her comments were wrong and family should be off-limits.”

Again, really? When you enlist your wife for video testimonials, when you repeatedly punt to her on questions about What Women Want, it seems to me that she is decidedly on-limits.

Rosen erred in her seemingly dismissive phraseology, not in talking about the candidate’s wife. Romney opened the door to that.


By: Ruth Marcus, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, April 12, 2012

April 14, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments


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