Poor women should be given federal assistance for child care so they can “have the dignity of work” said Mitt Romney, belying the outrage his campaign spent the last part of the week generating and showing, clearly, that for Republicans there is really only one acceptable stay-at-home mom: the kind supported by a wealthy husband.
The remarks were made in January and unearthed by MSNBC’s “Up with Chris Hayes” and broadcast during the 8 a.m. hour of his show on Sunday.
After Hilary Rosen suggested that Ann Romney wasn’t the best person to explain the financial pressures most working women face because she has not “worked a day in her life” the Romney camp saw an opening and ran with it, hoping to re-frame the debate as an attack on mothers by the left. “I made a choice to stay home and raise five boys. Believe me, it was hard work,” Romney said on Twitter.
Of course Ann Romney had a choice: her husband has millions to support her and their large family. And that is great, but not all women have that choice and as her husband made clear, not all women are entitled to a choice to begin with. Poor women 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.
Attacking poor single moms is nothing new for Romney. As governor of Massachusetts he increased the amount of time women on welfare were required to work. “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.’”
Romney’s comments simply illustrate the fundamental narrative driving this latest iteration of the mommy wars: motherhood and parenting are not truly valued by the right unless they fit into the very narrow confines of christian domesticity. And poor single mothers, are by this logic, inherently unchristian and non-domestic, not to be trusted absent the close oversight of a husband or lawmakers.
Photo from Beth Rankin via flickr.