And now Progressive Democrats, lead by the Democratic Congressman Pete Stark of my great state of California (naturally), are trying once again to use this moment to make the lives of actual working parents better in the real world, in spite of the lies and brutality of the usual hypocritical Republicans. While it is unlikely that Republicans can be shamed into putting their votes where their big mouths are, one assumes this will put the obscenity of their cynical lip-smacking feeding frenzy to a welcome stop, as well as expose for anybody who needs yet another in the series of a million reminders of just whose side Republicans are on. I must say it is rather heartening to realize how politically inept Republicans are revealed to be in so transparently seeking to seize a news cycle by pretending to care about what they have endlessly testified on record and on tape to not caring about, and in a way that exposes them to the risk of undermining their usually relentless focus on their ongoing anti-government pro-feudalist civilization dismantlement project and opens the door to public discussion of the ways in which social democracy might be made to work for the majority of people who actually work for a living if people of good sense and good will who actually care about such things are the ones we support. Here is the Press Release from Pete Stark's office:
WASHINGTON -- Today, Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA) introduced the Women's Option to Raise Kids Act (WORK Act), which would recognize that all parents who stay home to raise young children are, in fact, doing important and legitimate work. Original cosponsors of the WORK Act include Reps. John Lewis (D-GA), Gwen Moore (D-WI), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Jim McDermott (D-WA), Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), Janice Schakowsky (D-IL), Rosa DeLauro (D-CA), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), and Laura Richardson (D-CA).
Rep. Stark: "Mitt Romney was for ObamaCare before he was against it. Then, he was for forcing low-income mothers into the workforce before he decided 'all moms are working moms'." "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've introduced the WORK Act to provide low-income parents the option of staying home to raise young children without being pushed into poverty."
Why we need the WORK Act:
Current law does not count low-income stay-at-home parents who are raising young children as meeting the necessary Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) work requirement. Current law also bans states from counting these individuals toward that state's work participation rate, which can result in financial penalties if not met. This effectively bars low-income parents who choose to stay home to raise their young children from access to the financial support of TANF.
As reported by the New York Times and others, the TANF program has been particularly unresponsive during the economic downturn (see this chart from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities). Today, TANF is only serving 27% of families living in poverty, compared to 68% when the program was enacted to great acclaim in 1996. The result is that more children are being pushed deeper into poverty and destitution. Congress needs to start fixing this problem to ensure that low-income families have access to needed assistance. The WORK Act is an important step in that direction.
What the WORK Act does:
The WORK Act would amend TANF law to recognize the critical job of raising children age three or younger as work. Under the legislation, low-income parents could work, receive job training, search for work, or raise their children until they are school-aged without fear of losing TANF support and being pushed deeper into poverty. This is the same option that wealthy families, such as the Romneys, enjoy.