The presidential campaign was consumed this week by controversy over Ann Romney and stay-at-home moms. Republicans seized on a stray comment by CNN contributor Hilary Rosen, who said Ann Romney had “never worked a day in her life.” Romney responded to the Rosen comments in a speech to the National Rifle Association on Friday, saying, "I happen to believe that all moms are working moms.”
But video from earlier this year, aired today on Up w/ Chris Hayes, shows Romney campaigning on the proposition that meaningful welfare reform should require parents with children to get out of the home and into the workforce. Responding to a question at a town hall event in Manchester, New Hampshire on January 4th, Romney described his position on work requirements for welfare recipients as governor of Massachusetts.
“I wanted to increase the work requirement,” Romney said. “I said, for instance, that even if you have a child two years of age, you need to go to work. And people said, ‘Well that's heartless,' and I said ‘No, no, I'm willing to spend more giving daycare to allow those parents to go back to work. It'll cost the state more providing that daycare, but I want the individuals to have the dignity of work.’”
That position has been conservative orthodoxy for years. Republicans have railed against the “culture of dependency” created by welfare programs, campaigning aggressively for policies that would force welfare recipients off the roles and “back into the workforce.”
As Romney himself put it in a speech to the Burlington Business Council during his campaign for Senate in 1994, the purpose of welfare “is to get people back into the workforce, that work is ennobling, and that we will do everything in our power to make sure that people who are on welfare have an opportunity and an obligation to go to work, not after two years but from day one if we could.”
Sal Gentile is a segment producer for "Up w/ Chris Hayes."