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The 'Woman's Option to Raise Kids' Act

One of the overarching lessons of the last week, apparently, is that Democrats and Republicans agree that stay-at-home moms are, indeed, working and should be respected for it. Ryan Grim reports that Rep. Pete Stark of California, a top Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee, wants to put this agreement to the test.

Under current law, raising children does not count toward the required "work activity" that must be performed by recipients of Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, the federal program that emerged from the 1996 welfare reform. Some states make an exception for mothers with children less than a year old.

The Woman's Option to Raise Kids (WORK) Act, a copy of which was provided to HuffPost in advance of its introduction, would allow mothers with children ages 3 and under to stay at home with their children and continue receiving benefits.

As Stark told Grim, "Mitt Romney was for forcing mothers into the workforce before he decided that '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'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."

The WORK Act, which House Republicans will almost certainly ignore, was introduced by Stark and seven of his fellow House Democrats this morning. Whether lawmakers who characterize themselves as "pro-family" join them remains to be seen.

In related news, let's also note that Mitt Romney, who created this kerfuffle, has contradicted himself in rather dramatic ways. For one thing, there's the video of the former governor in January, arguing that moms with kids as young as two aren't really "working," and should find jobs outside the home in order to have some "dignity." For another, as we talked about on the show this week, in Romney's book, the Republican wrote, "Welfare without work erodes the spirit and the sense of self-worth of the recipient. And it conditions the children of nonworking parents to an indolent and unproductive life."

And while we're at it, there's also this clip from 2010, uncovered by our pal James Carter, of Romney arguing those who haven't worked in the private sector simply don't understand how the economy works. Given last week's apoplexy, if Hilary Rosen had said the same thing, apparently the right would find this outrageous.