Browsing the archives for the Women’s Issues category.


Stupid Pundits Being Stupid

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Women's Issues

Erik Loomis at Lawyers, Guns & Money had nominated this David Brooks column as the dumbest article you’ll read today, but then he found a Richard Cohen column that is even dumber. These columns are self-evidently stupid enough to not need further commentary from me explaining why they are stupid.

If the prize is not yet awarded, I’d also like to nominate this William Saletan column as the dumbest article you’ll read today. Really, Saletan should stick to concern trolling about abortion and stop revealing how oblivious he can be about other issues as well. See Steve M for explanatory snark.

But my real purpose here is to nominate a blog post by Ross Douthat, called “Why French Women Don’t Get Promoted,” as at least a runner-up for the dumbest article you’ll read today. He presents data showing that U.S. career women have a higher glass ceiling than women in other developed countries, which may be true. But he thinks the reason for this is that those other countries have governments that provide more support for families, including working mothers — what Douthat calls “family-friendly socialism” — than in the U.S., where working mothers are on their own to patch together whatever arrangements they can make to balance office and home. He writes that family-friendly socialism . . .

helps explain the persistence of “the glass ceilings, as well as stubbornly large wage gaps in more progressive countries,” because working women tend to be shunted more decisively onto a mommy track than they are in the United States.

… but at no point does he attempt to explain why that would be true. And the sources he cites, the ones available online, don’t really explain why that would be true, either. It’s a correlation-must-be-causation argument.

One of the sources cited explains that women get so much maternity leave in France it makes employers nervous about hiring them. But it’s not like women here don’t get pregnant and choose to cut back hours or leave their jobs altogether. And, anyway, the same source says later that French companies find ways to punish excessive maternity-leave taking.

Basically, though, Douthat blames France for providing women with all these incentives to stay home and have more children, and he says that’s why they are less successful in their careers. The thing is, though, that women who really want to be a success in business are not going to have four or five babies to get more maternity leave and receive a government stipend. I suspect the women who most take advantage of France’s family-friendly socialism to spend more time with their children are the ones who choose to do that, whereas here low-wage service jobs are mostly filled up by women who have to work to earn the money but who would rather be home with their kids.

I’ve got two words for Douthat: Affirmative Action. People forget that Affirmative Action was and is as much about ending gender discrimination as racial discrimination. And early on, probably the biggest beneficiaries of Affirmative Action were younger college-educated women, mostly white, who no longer were being sidetracked into secretarial jobs just because they were girls while young men with exactly the same qualifications started up the career ladder. Now, after 40 years, it has made a huge difference.

Have any of these other developed countries with lower glass ceilings attempted anything as rigorous as Affirmative Action to address gender discrimination? I doubt it. If the glass ceilings are lower in France, I suspect the real culprit is old-fashioned sexism.

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Smoke and Mirrors and Abortion

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abortion, Wingnuts Being Wingnuts, Women's Issues

For years the Fetus People have based their entire movement on falsified framing, and they are still at it. They are particularly lavish with the phrase “late-term abortion,” drizzling it over their rhetoric like syrup over pancakes. Michael Gerson is doing it today, for example. However, to them “late-term” is a mercurial qualifier with no fixed boundaries and little relationship to actual human gestation. It means whatever they want it to mean.

For example, back when the fight was over the intact D&X procedure, or what the FPs kept calling “partial-birth abortion,” The Fetus People did such a good job conflating the terms “Partial birth” and “late term” that when the Supreme Court sided with them that the procedure could be banned, the FPs celebrated the end of late-term abortion. I wrote about this a lot at the time; see “Better Middle Than Late” and “More Late-Term Confusion.”

For example, this person sincerely believed that the “partial-birth” controversy was about aborting potentially viable fetuses, which it wasn’t. He wrote,

If a late term pregnancy was so harmful to the mother’s health, then the mother should just deliver the baby and give the baby a chance to survive. But this procedure wasn’t really about saving the life of the mother. It was about killing an unwanted baby.

But most, if not all, of these procedures were done before the gestational age at which a fetus is viable. So no matter how the pregnancy was terminated, there was no “chance to survive.” And elective post-viability abortion already was, and still is, illegal.

Let’s review:

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The SCOTUS decision in Roe v. Wade allows states to ban elective abortion when the fetus is potentially viable, and it seems all have done so, although I understand that in 9 states the law is not officially in effect because of a pending court challenge. However, per Roe guidelines, after the gestational age at which a fetus might survive, an abortion cannot be performed legally in 41 states by any means unless there is a medically compelling — life & health of the mother — reason to do so.

For the most recent information on the status of abortion law in each state, see the Guttmacher Institute, “State Policies on Later Abortions,” updated July 1, 2013.

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So when Michael Gerson writes in his most recent column:

The national abortion settlement declared by Roe v. Wade — rooting a nearly unrestricted right to abortion in the right to privacy — has been unstable for 40 years. The reason is a tension between the state of the law and a durable public consensus that human life has an increasing claim on our sympathy as it develops. This view does not reflect either pro-life or pro-choice orthodoxy. But it predicts a more sustainable political resolution.

The media have a slothful tendency to place Americans into rigid categories of pro-life and pro-choice. The reality is more complicated. A 2011 Gallup poll found that 79 percent of people who describe themselves as pro-choice support making abortion illegal in the third trimester.

… he is willfully ignoring what he must know, that, for all practical purposes,

elective abortion already is illegal in the third trimester

… and Roe is fine with this. Roe isn’t the problem. The problem is with bleeping stupid pinhead troglodyte righties who form opinions based on abject ignorance of both law and pregnancy.

Here’s what they’re up to: First, the Fetus People are hoping the public, including their own minions, have forgotten their victory over “late-term abortion” back in 2005 so they can recycle the old propaganda about those awful late-term abortions that are going on.

Second, they are trying to close the “life and health” exceptions, because they’d rather see a woman die than willfully refuse to drop her calf, so to speak. Of course, many of them have persuaded themselves that circumstances in which a fetus must be sacrificed to save the mother never happen, just like pregnancy resulting from rape never happens. It’s so much easier to achieve moral clarity if you ignore the messy reality of things.

Third, they are re-defining “third trimester” downward so that it starts sometime in mid-pregnancy. Notice how Gerson goes on about the third trimester when the laws being pushed by the Right these days would ban abortion after 20 weeks gestation, which is seven weeks earlier than the third trimester actually starts, and well before the viability threshold.

A full-term human pregnancy lasts 40 weeks. Even the math impaired can probably figure that 20 weeks is smack in the middle of the gestation period, not late in the gestation period. And no human fetus has ever survived outside the womb after only 20 weeks’ gestation.

Gerson continues,

But because the Supreme Court imposed a national settlement at odds with natural sentiments, pro-choice advocates are on the defensive. Their political challenge is to prevent the working of politics. Their real opponent is democracy, as state after state considers late-term abortion restrictions.

Pro-choice advocacy organizations have always stood by Roe, which means they are perfectly fine with states passing late-term abortions restrictions as long as (1) late-term bans really are late-term, meaning no sooner than the 24th weeks of gestation (the common viability threshold, which is still three weeks before the third trimester begins); and (2) allow for exceptions for life and health of the mother, giving private physicians reasonable discretion as to what that means without being second guessed by a bunch of pinhead troglodyte legislators.

So, again, Roe isn’t the problem, and reproductive rights advocates are fine with states banning genuinely late-term elective abortions, and have been since Roe was decided in bleeping 1973. But as part of the propaganda effort, shills like Gerson have to paint reproductive rights advocates as the unreasonable ones who don’t understand that late-term abortions are different.

See also Charles Pierce, “Stop Blowing Up Clinics and You’ll Have a Point“; and Tim Murphy, “Texas Lawmakers Too Busy Targeting Abortion Providers to Deal With Exploding Fertilizer Plants.”

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Twilight of the Patriarchy

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Women's Issues

It’s behind a subscription firewall, but there’s a lovely essay by Richard Rodriguez in the current issue of Harper’s. He nails down the real connection between heterosexual and homosexual marriage.

Divorce rates in the United States and Europe suggest that women are not happy with the relationships they have with men, and vice versa. And whatever that unhappiness is, I really don’t think gay people are the cause. On the other hand, whatever is wrong with heterosexual marriage does have some implication for homosexuals.

The majority of American women are living without spouses. My optimism regarding that tabulation is that a majority of boys in America will grow up assuming that women are strong. My worry is that as so many men absent themselves from the lives of the children they father, boys and girls will grow up without a sense of the tenderness of men.

The prospect of a generation of American children being raised by women in homes without fathers is challenging for religious institutions whose central conception of deity is father, whose central conception of church is family, whose only conception of family is heterosexual. A woman who can do without a husband can do without any patriarchal authority. The oblique remedy some religious institutions propose for the breakdown of heterosexual relationships is a legal objection to homosexual marriages by defining marriage as between one man and one woman.

IMO it’s all about the patriarchy. It’s why so many (mostly white male) politicians are obsessed with shutting down Planned Parenthood and criminalizing abortion. It’s behind Erick Erickson’s recent rant.

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Arsonists Target Atlanta OB-GYN Clinics

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abortion, Terrorism, Women's Issues

Someone may be making the war on women literal. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that there have been a series of burglaries and arsons in the Atlanta area targeting abortion clinics and OB-GYN practices that don’t do abortion. In other words, they’re going after any clinic or practice that deals exclusively with women’s reproductive health care.

The latest arson was the most brazen one, occurring during business hours Wednesday morning at Alpha Group GYN, which provides abortion services and counseling, on Powers Ferry Road in Marietta.

Another suspicious fire on Sunday occurred at the Atlanta Gynecology and Obstetrics Gwinnett office in Lilburn, which also was the site of a burglary on Jan. 26. The thieves stole a desktop computer.

Two other burglaries at obstetrics and gynecology offices occurred in March in Sandy Springs and unincorporated Suwanee. Most of the clinics do not perform abortions.

The FBI has begun an investigation.

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Mrs. Mittens Misspeaks

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Mittens, Women's Issues

Yesterday Ann Romney said this:

I love the fact that there are women out there who don’t have a choice and they must go to work and they still have to raise the kids. Thank goodness that we value those people too. And sometimes life isn’t easy for any of us.”

Somehow I don’t think that’s exactly what she meant to say.

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CNN Poll: No Change in Gender Gap

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Mittens, Obama Administration, Women's Issues

This just in

The survey indicates women voters back Obama over Romney by 16 points (55%-39%), virtually unchanged from an 18-point advantage among women for the president in CNN polling last month.

The poll was conducted two days after Democratic strategist and CNN contributor Hilary Rosen created a controversy by saying that Ann Romney “never worked a day in her life.”

“That remark may have little long-term effect on women voters,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. “By a two-to-one margin, the women surveyed saw President Obama as more in touch with the problems facing American women today.”

We won’t know for sure until some more polls come in, but I will be honestly surprised if there is any significant change in President Obama’s approval ratings among women because of Mrs. Romney’s self-centered hissy fit about how hard she works.

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Righties Declare Victory in the War on Women

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Mittens, Wingnuts Being Wingnuts, Women's Issues

However, at the moment I don’t feel conquered. A bit tired, but not conquered.

Speaking of wars — history tells us that at the end of the first day of the Battle of Shiloh, Confederate General Pierre Gustav Toutant Beauregard telegraphed Richmond that he had won “a complete victory.” History also tells us that Union General William Tecumseh Sherman also assumed the Confederates had won. He sought out his commanding officer, General Ulysses S. Grant, to receive his orders for retreat.

Sherman found Grant hunkered under a tree, in the rain, smoking a cigar. “Well, Grant, we’ve had the devil’s own day, haven’t we?” Sherman said. And Grant, after another puff of the cigar, said, “Yes. Lick ‘em tomorrow, though.” There would be no retreat.

The next day Union troops routed the Confederates and won the day, and the battle. Beauregard’s premature assumption of victory haunted the rest of his military career. Although, truth be told, his association with the Confederacy ended up being a worse career move.

I always think of General Beauregard whenever people declare victory a bit prematurely. At the Village Voice, Roy Edroso describes rightbloggers taking virtual victory laps and even performing psychological post-mortems on the conquered Left.

[Rosen's] comments are a symptom of an underlying intolerance for values that exist outside pockets of liberal majority,” claimed Right Speak. That is, they represent (deep breath) “the mindset that traditional, conservative culture is bad as it exists outside the two coasts and other liberal centers of thought, such as higher education, it is dangerous, because the more it is allowed to be considered as mainstream, the more acceptable it will seem to all when legislation is passed one step at a time that eliminates and erodes many of the values the rest of the country holds.”

“I feel the left is riddled with insecurity,” explained AJ Strata. “They are intimidated by the rich, the powerful (see our military), the successful (another form of rich), and the happy. They thrive on sustaining the moment they revolted from parental oppression (be it religion, sexual orientation, taste in clothes, whatever). Why they even consider having or raising kids is beyond me. Maybe it is more of that lashing out and trying to prove they were right when they went full anarchist to leave the nest.” Whoever would imagine there were enough such people to elect a President? America must be in a very grave state.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Mittens is calling Hilary Rosen’s remarks an “early birthday present.” So far, neither Mr. nor Mrs. Mittens have told us why Mrs. Mittens has been deprived of the “Dignity of Work.”

It may be a few days before we know if the “mommy war” flap put any dent in the gender gap working against Mittens, or if the rightbloggers are pulling a General Beauregard. But if things work out the way I suspect they will, I have some advice for them:

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Mittens Is Going to Be Very Sorry

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Mittens, Women's Issues

He probably thinks he has found the key for winning back women’s votes by piling on the old “mommy wars.” But then Chris Hayes found this, from January:

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So, according to Mittens, stay-at-home moms don’t understand the “dignity of work.” Chris Hayes continues,

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And Chris Hayes reminds us that for years we’ve heard that poor and single mothers must be pushed into the work force so that they aren’t lazy and dependent. But wealthier women actually enjoy tax benefits for staying home. If you want to see more of this morning’s program, see the Chris Hayes page.

Ryan Grim spells it out at Huffington Post. See also Alex Seitz-Wald at Think Progress

Most of us who had to work to support ourselves and our children had it up to here with the “mommy wars” years ago. Yes, raising kids is work, but raising kids while working full time is more work. A lot more work. Especially when you can’t afford housekeepers and cooks and nannies.

I think Mittens may be about to find out that the “mommy wars” aren’t the opportunity he thought they were. Let’s see what Mr. Etch-a-Sketch has to say about his welfare policies in the next few days.

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The Republican War Against Women

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Obama Administration, Republican Party, Women's Issues

The Wall Street Journal wants us to know that Republicans can win the War Against Women. Seriously. I like this headline so much I screen captured it before some dweeb at WSJ wakes up and realizes what it says –

Anyway, WSJ thinks Romney should let the world know how Democratic policies are hurting women:

Rarely noted in the “women’s” debate is that most of this country’s major institutions and laws were developed at a time of one-earner households. In 1950, only 12% of mothers with children under the age of six were in the labor force. That number is today more than 60%. Yet many women who now work are penalized by outdated policies that haven’t kept pace with these big shifts in American society.

Exhibit A is a progressive tax code and the penalty it imposes on earning marginal, or additional, income. Most married women are second earners. That means their income is added to that of their husband’s and thus often taxed at a high marginal rate. This “marriage penalty” has never fully been adjusted for in the tax code. A married woman working on an assembly line keeps less of her paycheck than the unwed man who does the same job. That’s real inequality in pay for women.

You won’t hear Democrats admitting this punitive tax burden—particularly when combined with child-care costs—is a reason many women can’t afford to work, even if they wish to.

I’ve never heard the “marriage tax” described this way, but let’s go on — in all my years I’ve never heard a woman complain that taxes are keeping her from pursing her career. Have you?

And now we come to it …

And the expiration of the Bush tax cuts would compound this problem. To the extent Mr. Romney is offering a flatter tax code, with lower marginal rates, he is offering millions of women greater choice and a shot at more economic freedom.

That goes beyond merely off the wall or out of touch; that’s downright depraved. Any woman wealthy enough to benefit from the bleeping Bush tax cuts has plenty of options to work or not to work as she pleases. And if she does work, it probably won’t be a the cash register of the local Piggly Wiggly for minimum wage.

Here’s a campaign issue I really do want Romney to run on:

Mr. Romney might note the damage done to women by antiquated but still operative labor law, such as a provision in the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act that requires hourly workers who put in more than 40 hours a week to get overtime.

Please, Mittens, add that to your speeches. Please.

While some women like overtime, a 1990s poll found that 81% said they’d rather pack more hours into fewer days and receive compensatory time off. The phrase for this is “flex time,” an invaluable option for many mothers attempting to juggle work and family. Not in this Democratic war.

“Flex time” and overtime pay are two different issues. In the real world, the only thing keeping many women hourly workers from being forced to work more than a 40-hour-week is the overtime pay requirement. Without it, they’d be in the same boat as many salaried workers, being expected to tack additional time onto the workday with no additional compensation, including time off. In all my years of working I had only one job that gave comp time, and that was when our business travels ate up a weekend. And I was on salary.

The idea behind “flex time” is not fewer hours, but the ability to start and end the workday at something other than 9 to 5, like maybe 8:30 to 4:30. Assuming one is working hourly, of course. For salaried workers that would be more like 8:30 to 7:00.

Government creates myriad roadblocks for women’s economic progress, but Republicans largely have failed to make that case. They’ve instead let themselves be dragged into the tired debate over “equal pay” and “women’s rights” and “gender equality.”

Oh yes, so tired.

Democrats love competing on these terms because it allows them to argue that the remedy always lies with more government, no matter the adverse consequences.

Instead, we should eliminate all employment and workplace regulations and live at the tender mercies of our employers? Oh, yes, run on that, Mittens. It’s the message the nation is waiting to hear.

It’s no accident that the first piece of legislation Mr. Obama signed was the Lilly Ledbetter Act. Purporting to snuff out wage discrimination, this is mostly a litigation bonanza for trial lawyers.

Yes, Mittens, run against Lilly Ledbetter. You know you want to. Lilly wants you to.

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Now, let’s go back to what I linked to in the last post. I’m just going to repeat this:

Sara Mead:

One of the distasteful things about the tendency to label all sorts of debates or initiatives as “wars” is that in real wars, people die. But the reality is that a shockingly high number of American moms are dying for preventable reasons. The U.S. Maternal Mortality Ratio (the number of maternal deaths per 100,000 live births) is shockingly high, well above the average for the developed world, and higher than virtually all of Western Europe as well as some countries in Asia and the Middle East. Even more troubling, U.S. maternal mortality has increased in the last two decades, and is now more than twice as high as it was in the late 1980s. The Affordable Care Act included provisions designed to help stop this scary trend—not just by expanding health care access (many maternal deaths could be prevented with proper care)—but also through the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting program, created as part of ACA, which provides nurses and social workers to work with high-risk moms, starting before they give birth, to help them have healthy pregnancies and deliveries and support their babies’ health and development after birth.The program is modeled after programs, such as the Nurse Family Partnership that have a strong track record of improving maternal and child outcomes, preventing abuse and neglect, increasing fathers’ involvement in their kids’ lives, improving kids’ school performance, reducing crime, and saving the taxpayers a boatload of money over the long term. But all that could go the way of the dodo, if ACA is struck down or repealed (and some of the right wing fear-mongering about this program must be seen to be believed).

For all we hear about “family friendly” conservatives promoting traditional families to keep us from going the way of G-d-forsaken Europe, the reality is that the U.S. actually has a higher percentage of infants and toddlers in childcare (as opposed to home with mom) than all the OECD countries except Denmark, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden (and we’re closer to Sweden than we are to the OECD average). That’s the direct result of policy choices we’ve made, including the total absence of paid parental leave (for which we stand alone among developed countries, in a small and shrinking field that includes Papau New Guinea, Swaziland, and Lesotho). And even as the recession has increased the number of moms of very young children in the workforce, states have cut funding for child care and made it harder to get in other ways as well.

But, y’know, if we could just make the Bush tax cuts for the rich permanent, everything will be right as rain. Yeah, campaign on that, Mittens.

Update: A Republican voter speaks

It’s long been observed that the uglier a woman is, the more likely she is to be a feminist. And it was always logical, too, that women who couldn’t compete with other women in the traditional manner would seek to change the rules of the game. But now there is some scientific evidence supporting both the logic and the observation, and it could be very useful in helping counteract the feminist propaganda that inundates young women from the time they are girls, encouraging them to waste their youth and fertility in chasing careers rather than families.

The message is a simple and straighforward one: feminism is for female losers in the game of Life.

Losers? This boy belongs under a bell jar in the Loser Museum.

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GOP to Moms: Drop Dead

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Obama Administration, Republican Party, Women's Issues

Sara Mead:

One of the distasteful things about the tendency to label all sorts of debates or initiatives as “wars” is that in real wars, people die. But the reality is that a shockingly high number of American moms are dying for preventable reasons. The U.S. Maternal Mortality Ratio (the number of maternal deaths per 100,000 live births) is shockingly high, well above the average for the developed world, and higher than virtually all of Western Europe as well as some countries in Asia and the Middle East. Even more troubling, U.S. maternal mortality has increased in the last two decades, and is now more than twice as high as it was in the late 1980s. The Affordable Care Act included provisions designed to help stop this scary trend—not just by expanding health care access (many maternal deaths could be prevented with proper care)—but also through the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting program, created as part of ACA, which provides nurses and social workers to work with high-risk moms, starting before they give birth, to help them have healthy pregnancies and deliveries and support their babies’ health and development after birth.The program is modeled after programs, such as the Nurse Family Partnership that have a strong track record of improving maternal and child outcomes, preventing abuse and neglect, increasing fathers’ involvement in their kids’ lives, improving kids’ school performance, reducing crime, and saving the taxpayers a boatload of money over the long term. But all that could go the way of the dodo, if ACA is struck down or repealed (and some of the right wing fear-mongering about this program must be seen to be believed).

For all we hear about “family friendly” conservatives promoting traditional families to keep us from going the way of G-d-forsaken Europe, the reality is that the U.S. actually has a higher percentage of infants and toddlers in childcare (as opposed to home with mom) than all the OECD countries except Denmark, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden (and we’re closer to Sweden than we are to the OECD average). That’s the direct result of policy choices we’ve made, including the total absence of paid parental leave (for which we stand alone among developed countries, in a small and shrinking field that includes Papau New Guinea, Swaziland, and Lesotho). And even as the recession has increased the number of moms of very young children in the workforce, states have cut funding for child care and made it harder to get in other ways as well.

Oh, but the Romney campaign has pro-mom bumper stickers!

And the Republican National Committee has pro-mom coffee mugs!

Seriously.

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