Sorry, Republicans. Obama Isn’t Forcing Mothers to Work Outside the Home.

The end of campaign season means mass of out of context quotes, properly pulled and re-purposed with the intent of causing last minute outrage to move voters for or against a candidate. Even worse, this apparently is an issue even when the politician himself isn’t actually up for reelection.

Women’s issues became a huge topic for campaigns during the 2014 midterms, even despite the fact that both parties have some massive disagreements over what it is they believe that women voters want. The GOP feels that women would be best served with better paying jobs, lower taxes, less business regulations and other factors that would allow families to get by on one income, then providing those same female voters the ability to stay home and raise their children more easily. Democrats, meanwhile, believe that better access to affordable health care, affordable day care, paid parental leave, birth control access and better public schools can allow families to have the number of children they want and be able to support them financially and, if both parents do choose to work, allow them to continue in their careers at the same time.

The two don’t have to be mutually exclusive, yet the Republican party wants voters to believe that they are. According to them, Democrats want every mother to work, regardless of whether or not she wishes to be at home to raise her children instead. At least, that is how they are translating a 30 second soundbite of a recent speech given by President Barack Obama in Rhode Island.

“During a speech in Rhode Island today, President Obama called for more taxpayer-spending on pre-school in order to ‘make sure that women are full and equal participants in our economy’ and said the following: ‘Sometimes, someone, usually mom, leaves the workplace to stay home with the kids, which then leaves her earning a lower wage for the rest of her life as a result. And that’s not a choice we want Americans to make,’” reports the right leaning Weekly Standard.

Apparently, in conservative-speak, that translates into saying women should never say at home with children. “I reject out of hand the idea that parents staying home with their children a choice that by definition means a change in labor force participation should be viewed as a negative choice,” argued the Federalist, which offers a multi-part take down explaining that it’s worth the financial sacrifices to keep one parent at home with the children and how that’s more rewarding than money any day.

However, the right wing is projecting when they say that the President is positioning staying at home as a negative choice. The pundits leave out a massive amount of context surrounding the recent speech, starting with the fact that Obama’s topic was women’s economic opportunities and how women in the workplace can balance both careers and motherhood. “Women deserve a day off to take care of a sick child or sick parent without running into hardship. And, Rhode Island has got the right idea,” President Obama said. “You’re just one of three states where paid family leave is the law of the land. More states should choose to follow your lead. It was funny in the meeting this morning, business leaders said the Rhode Island law helped them in recruiting and retaining outstanding employees.”

The president spoke about the need for flexible workplaces, affordable childcare, paid leave, and a number of initiatives that would allow women to both parent and work more easily, which allows them to continue their careers and not lose forward momentum in pay and promotions. This has become especially important in a world where the GOP continues to block equal pay initiatives. Remaining in that career, however, is a choice that each woman should make for herself, not one that is forced upon her as the right wing punditry implies.

As for that “choice” that Obama said we don’t want people to be forced to make? That exact choice was choosing between affordable childcare that has no early learning components, or staying at home because they can’t afford high quality, safe and developmentally appropriate and challenging childcare programs.

If women (or men) are being forced to work when they would prefer to be home raising their children, it isn’t as a result of insidious Democratic plots to keep women away from their homes. In fact, the policies that Democrats are supporting, such as higher wages and affordable health care, make it far more likely a family can survive on one income if it chooses. So the next time you hear that someone is trying to force women into the workforce against their will, maybe it makes more sense to first ask who is keeping wages low, insurance costs high, and protecting the richest of Americans from paying their fair share of taxes each year.

Photo credit: Thinkstock


Jerome S
Jerome S1 years ago


Jim Ven
Jim Ven1 years ago

thanks for sharing.

Jim Ven
Jim Ven2 years ago

thanks for the article.

Nicole Heindryckx

as well as pensions. Governments in all Western countries are shouting : there is no money. There is more than money enough. But it is at the wrong place, with the wrong people. THAT'S ALL THERE IS !!!

Nicole Heindryckx

Although I already commented, wld like to add the foll. : My father was a normal laborer and my mother stayed at home with 3 children. They were able to buy themselves a house, a television, a car and all of us had the possibility to follow higher studies if we could or wanted. We had breakfast, decent lunch and decent dinner. We never went hungry, are suffered from cold, etc.. I am quite sure that if my husband had only worked, and me staying home also with 3 children, we even would not have washing machine, no 3 decent meals with meat and vegetables and fruits, and at the age of 14 or 16 I wld have been obliged to send my children to a factory or another job to increase the monthly income. An own home and a small family car would have been dreams. The main difference between my parents' time and mine is that now wages have not increased together with the money needed for daily, normal products, for electricity, heating, aso.. The gap between the working people and the white collars is getting bigger and bigger every year. Nowadays renting a flat is about 50 % of your income!! Is that normal ?? The last 10 to 15 years many children can't go to dentist ; many elderly people don't go to the doctor for monthly control, can't buy their medication ; have to turn out their heating, lightning and tele and go sleeping around 19.00 hrs, just to save some money. Meat, vegetables and fruits are becoming luxury! Is that normal ??? Wages have to be adjusted as well as pen

Danuta Watola
Danuta W4 years ago

Thanks for sharing

Robert Hamm
Robert Hamm4 years ago

HAHAHAHAAHAHAHAH Steve so we should alll just regresss back to the 50s where half the homes didnt even have cetral heat and or AC. We should all suffer so the rich can lieve better than they have in 100 years??? And WHY should we? Simply becasue the rich demand it??
Why should WE regresss when they won’t?? And where should we stop…….showuld we go back the 30s when they demand hat???? how about the 1800s when they demand THAT? IN fact why dont we all sleeep in wagons what the hell.

Karen Everton
Karen E4 years ago

Kevin B. You are spot on target!!!

Carole R.
Carole R4 years ago

Today most homes need 2 incomes to have a decent standard of livig. Women, for the most part, don't have a choice any more.
Some liberation.

Kevin Brown
Kevin Brown4 years ago

I am sorry, Steve A., but you are wrong in your assessment that the middle class lifestyle of the 1950's was somehow "austure" and that if people would "ere to accept the fifties lifestyle (one car, small house, one TV, one wired phone etc) then maybe she could stay home."

That assumption is simply preposterous. The problem is not increased consumption or greed on the part of the working or middle class.

The problem is that the greedy corporate bloodsuckers and the uber-rich no longer think that the working and middle class deserves to be paid a decent salary.

Corporate and business profits today are at a 60 year high, but wages have been stagnant for three decades. It now takes two working parents just to EQUAL what you could have on one blue collar job in the 1950's.