The “welfare reform” passed during the Clinton administration was based on the idea that welfare recipients would be required to work.
Welfare reform was billed as the end of the free ride for all those lazy moms sitting at home doing nothing except raising their kids and cashing their AFDC checks. The new law replaced the old Aid to Families with Dependent Children with TANF — Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. And TANF meant those lazy moms were going to have to earn that assistance.
Those of us who objected to this new law at the time argued that, actually, those moms already were doing work — they were raising their kids. This objection got slapped down by, among others, the Republican Party, which insisted at the time that raising kids wasn’t real work and didn’t count.
This led to some odd aspects to the work requirement for TANF. Stay home and raise your kids and you’re not counted as working. But if you and your neighbor swap kids for the day, you could both declare yourselves to be in the daycare business, because taking care of someone else’s kids does count as work.
In any case, I was pleased yesterday to learn that the Republican Party has changed its mind:
Bravo! Welcome to the proper side of this debate!
And now that they’ve conceded that mothers who stay at home to raise their children are, in fact, doing work, I assume the next step will be for GOP lawmakers to get right to work themselves rewriting the work requirements for TANF to acknowledge that, yes, “Moms Do Work,” and that therefore it’s redundant and wrong to tell the single mothers receiving TANF that this important and difficult and legitimate work doesn’t count.
Or maybe not.
Maybe the slogan on the GOP’s banner above was just shortened for space. It might be that what they’re really saying is “Wealthy White Married Moms Do Work That We Count As Work, But Non-Wealthy and/or Non-White and/or Non-Married Moms Who Stay Home With Their Kids Are Still Just Lazy Freeloaders And Their Work Still Doesn’t Count.”
One or the other. The Republican Party cannot say “Moms Do Work” and “Mom’s Work Doesn’t Count” at the same time.
Seriously, the Mom-a-palooza of the past 48 hours hasn’t changed the Republican Party line. Women with children are still being tag-teamed by the free marketeer and the social conservative wings of the GOP. No matter what women do, it’s their fault. If they get a job and earn a living in the marketplace, then it’s their fault because they should be staying home to raise their children. If they stay at home to raise their children, then it’s their fault because they need to stop being so lazy and go get a job. If you’re a mother, the GOP says, then whatever it is you’re doing is wrong.