FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Different Bats for Different Brats

by LAURA FLANDERS

For all the shameful sucking up to multi-millionaire mom Ann Romney after Democratic pundit Hilary Rosen accused her of never having worked “a day in her life,” the reality is neither Republicans nor Democrats treat most parenting as work, and thousands of poor women are living in poverty today as living proof of that fact.

Do we need to state the obvious? Women of different classes are beaten with different rhetorical bats. For the college educated and upwardly aspiring there’s the “danger” of career ambitions. Ever since women started aspiring to have men’s jobs, backlashers have told those women that they’re enjoying their careers at the expense of their kids’ well being. They really can’t have it all. They’ll raise monsters, or worse, they’ll grow old on the shelf.  Remember the Harvard/Yale mob that made headlines with a “study” showing that unmarried women over thirty had a slimmer chance of matrimony than they had of being taken out by a terrorist?  Susan Faludi took them apart in Backlash! but the evil spawn of that story still circulate. The media still love stories about stay-at-home moms and professional women are still punished for wanting to succeed. For the poor, though, it’s a different story.

Following Rosen’s remark, Ann Romney tweeted her first tweet: “I made a choice to stay home and raise five boys. Believe me, it was hard work.” Her husband’s campaign hoisted that cudgel and has been beating Rosen and the Democrats with it for almost a week.

It was a relief, then, to see this gotcha clip from Mitt Romney a campaign event in January, in which he said mothers on welfare should be forced to get a job outside the home or lose their government benefits. Cruel? No: “I want those individuals to have the dignity of work,” said Romney.

The remark, made to a Manchester, N.H., audience, was aired during Chris Hayes’s MSNBC show Sunday. Nice. But pushing poor women out to “work” wasn’t just a Republican trick. For half a decade, from President Clinton’s pledge to “end welfare as we know it pledge” to his signing of welfare reform, (the pointedly named 1996 “Personal Responsibility Act”) pundits and politicians of both parties took aim at poor moms and skewed statistics to cast poor moms on welfare as dependent, lazy, greedy and breeding for benefits. For their good and ours, we were told, poor moms needed to be forced out “to work.”

In many places, even raising kids while getting an education wasn’t “work” enough. The City University of New York, for example, lost thousands of welfare-receiving students when, under the direction of Mayors Giuliani and then Bloomberg, administrators refused to count class time, work-study and internships as sufficient work activity to qualify for benefits. I keenly remember following Maureen Lane and fellow welfare recipients at Hunter College, as they led legislators on a tour of places where benefits’ recipients were forced to work. Low-wage, unskilled assignments, without benefits or security were the only jobs people pushed off the rolls without education and training could get in the 1990s – in a good economy.

Now, as the New York Times’ Jason DeParle reported valiantly this past week, the situation’s worse. Throwing poor moms off benefits has shrunken welfare roles, but not poverty. To the contrary:

Pamela Loprest and Austin Nichols, researchers at the Urban Institute, found that one in four low-income single mothers nationwide — about 1.5 million — are jobless and without cash aid. That is twice the rate the researchers found under the old welfare law. More than 40 percent remain that way for more than a year, and many have mental or physical disabilities, sick children or problems with domestic violence.

Using a different definition of distress, Luke Shaefer of the University of Michigan and Kathryn Edin of Harvard examined the share of households with children in a given month living on less than $2 per person per day. It has nearly doubled since 1996, to almost 4 percent. Even when counting food stamps as cash, they found one of every 50 children live in such a household.

If the Democratic politicians now pandering to the Romney’s had any spunk, they’d have backed Hilary Rosen one hundred percent. If either party legislated as if parenting was work, things for poor women and their kids would be very different.  Next time welfare reform is up for re-authorization I hope they  — and their pet pundits — come in for no end of grief. They deserve it.

LAURA FLANDERS is the host of The Laura Flanders Show coming to public television stations later this year. She was the host and founder of GRITtv.org. Follow her on Twitter: @GRITlaura. 


More articles by:

Laura Flanders is the host of GRITtv now seen on the new, news channel TeleSUR English – for a new perspective. 

January 17, 2018
Seiji Yamada
Prevention is the Only Solution: a Hiroshima Native’s View of Nuclear Weapons
Chris Welzenbach
Force of Evil: Abraham Polonsky and Anti-Capitalist Noir
Thomas Klikauer
The Business of Bullshit
Howard Lisnoff
The Atomized and Siloed U.S. Left
Martha Rosenberg
How Big Pharma Infiltrated the Boston Museum of Science
George Wuerthner
The Collaboration Trap
David Swanson
Removing Trump Will Require New Activists
Michael McKinley
Australia and the Wars of the Alliance: United States Strategy
Binoy Kampmark
Macron in China
Cesar Chelala
The Distractor-in-Chief
Ted Rall
Why Trump is Right About Newspaper Libel Laws
Mary Serumaga
Corruption in Uganda: Minister Sam Kutesa and Company May Yet Survive Their Latest Scandal
January 16, 2018
Mark Schuller
What is a “Shithole Country” and Why is Trump So Obsessed With Haiti?
Paul Street
Notes From a “Shithole” Superpower
Louisa Willcox
Keeper of the Flame for Wilderness: Stewart “Brandy” Brandborg
Mike Whitney
Trump’s Sinister Plan to Kill the Iranian “Nukes” Deal
Franklin Lamb
Kafkaesque Impediments to Challenging Iran’s Theocracy
Norman Solomon
Why Senator Cardin is a Fitting Opponent for Chelsea Manning
Fred Gardner
GI Coffeehouses Recalled: a Compliment From General Westmoreland
Brian Terrell
Solidarity from Central Cellblock to Guantanamo
Don Fitz
Bondage Scandal: Looking Beneath the Surface
Rob Seimetz
#Resist Co-opting “Shithole”
Ted Rall
Trump Isn’t Unique
January 15, 2018
Rob Urie
Democrats and the End(s) of Politics
Paul Tritschler
Killing Floor: the Business of Animal Slaughter
Mike Garrity
In Targeting the Lynx, the Trump Administration Defies Facts, Law, and Science Once Again
Thomas Hon Wing Polin
Hong Kong Politics: a Never-Ending Farce
Uri Avnery
Bibi’s Son (Or Three Men in a Car)
Dave Lindorff
Yesterday’s ‘Shithole Countries’ Can Become Classy Places Donald, and Vice Versa
Jeff Mackler
Lesser Evil Politics in Alabama
Jonah Raskin
Typewriters Still Smoking? An Interview with Underground Press Maven John McMillan
Jose-Antonio Orosco
Trump’s Comments Recall a Racist Past in Immigration Policy
David Macaray
Everything Seems to Be Going South
Kathy Kelly
41 Hearts Beating in Guantanamo
Weekend Edition
January 12, 2018
Friday - Sunday
George Burchett
Wormwood and a Shocking Secret of War: How Errol Morris Vindicated My Father, Wilfred Burchett
Roberto J. González
Starting Them Young: Is Facebook Hooking Children on Social Media?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Between the Null and the Void
Andrew Levine
Trump After Bannon: What Next?
John Davis
Mud-Slide
Ajamu Baraka
The Responsibility to Protect the World … from the United States
Robert Hunziker
Global Warming Stirs the Methane Monster
Paul Street
Lazy Liberals and “the Trump Effect”
Carmen Rodriguez
Trump’s Attack on Salvadoran Migrants
Mike Whitney
Oprah for President, Really?
Francisco Cabanillas
The Hurricane After Maria
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail