Well, here's a condundrum for Republicans: yet another "woman problem". See, when it comes to mothers working outside the home rather than inside the home, they believe women -- such as Ann Romney -- have a god-given right to be at home with children, because, you know, it's darn hard work, real work, work as valid as anything done in the work force.
They all said it, remember, when Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen commented that Ann Romney had never worked a day in her life -- child-rearing is the hardest of hard work, they declared, and women should be encouraged to do it and rewarded for it, and shouldn't be belittled for it.
That being said, Republicans seem loath to ante up and support a Democratic-sponsored bill, The Women's Option to Raise Kids (WORK) Act, which would allow mothers with children three and under to stay home with the kids and continue receiving TANF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families), a program that now requires outside work activity to qualify. The Democrats' position is that, if being a stay-at-home mom is as difficult as being in the workforce, that time should qualify as "work activity" under TANF, something Republican Congressional representatives are now, of course, scoffing at (but which they recently staunchly defended in the wake of Rosen's criticism of Ann Romney).
Republican Florida Representative John Mica said that allowing being a mom to qualify as work activity is "a stretch, it's a stretch, it's a stretch . . . But it doesn't pass the test . . . It is work, but it isn't work in the normal sense that you would qualify for those kind of benefits."
Republican Texas Representative Pete Sessions gave women all the props in the world for the birthing and the mom'ing, but when asked if he'd support the WORK Act, he responded irately, "Of course not. I'm for jobs."
Republican Florida Representative Connie Mack said that "we should honor women not only for the work they do outside the home, but for the hard work at home," but called the Democratic notion (of fairness) behind the WORK Act "disgusting."
Republican Iowa Representative Steve King, parroting the rest of the stay-at-home mom proponents (at least in the case of multi-millionaire Ann Romney), said that raising children is "the most precious and valuable work that gets done in America" -- but he, of course, doesn't support the WORK Act. In fact, he largely said that allowing women to collect benefits while staying home with toddlers is a message of government dependence and a lack of self-reliance, and he advocates following in the path of multi-millionaires Mitt and Ann Romney, who raised their sons to be "self-reliant" (sure, in the form of that $100 million trust fund they set up for their kids), and not to rely on the government. Collecting government assistance while staying home with kids - if you're not, that is, a multi-millionaire, is -- in King's opinion -- simply a reward for gaming the system.
Republican Wisconsin Freshman Representative Sean Duffy (whose wife is a stay-at-home mom) said the bill "reeks of politics."
"All moms are working moms," declared Mitt Romney recently, in defense of his wife. But when it came to lower income women in Massachusetts being allowed to stay home and continue to receive benefits, suddenly working outside the home became the only course that allowed women dignity: "I'm willing to spend more giving day care to allow those parents to go back to work," said Romney. "It'll cost the state more providing that day care, but I want the individuals to have the dignity of work."
Sure, can't get any more dignified than having the state pay a daycare provider more money to care for someone's children than it would cost a parent to stay home, simply to prevent slacker mommies on the public dole.
As the bill's sponsor, Democratic California Representative Pete Stark, noted, if Romney truly believes that "all moms are working moms," then "it's unfair to apply a different standard to low-income women . . . I think we should take Mr. Romney at his most recent word and change our federal laws to recognize the importance and legitimacy of raising young children. That's why I'm introducing the WORK Act to provide low-income parents the option of staying home to raise young children without fear of being pushed into poverty."
When Hilary Rosen made the off-hand remark about Ann Romney not working a day in her life, Republicans (along with conservative pundits and conservative spokespeople and conservative bloggers and Sean Hannity and Fox Newsies) had a field day, gleefully pointing out the Democratic "war on women."
With the Democratic-sponsored WORK Act, however, Dems are throwing down: If, as Republican Representative Sean Duffy said, "a poopy diaper is a poopy diaper . . . Whether you're in a rich house or a poor house," then maybe Republicans ought to stick to their recently and hastily written script and concede that, whether in a rich house or a poor house, a mommy is a mommy is a mommy.