ThinkProgress discussed the issue with the south Florida congressman on Tuesday following a town hall meeting. West argued that women who stay in the home to raise kids should be considered working mothers. But when asked whether mothers who are on welfare should be allowed to stay home and raise their children, West’s position was remarkably different. Instead of advocating for the work that poor mothers do at home raising kids, West decried the “growth of the entitlement or the nanny state.”
To West, the problem isn’t welfare-to-work, which requires mothers on welfare to work outside the home; it’s “people depending on the federal government”:
KEYES: Is there any question about whether or not stay-at-home moms who are raising kids, whether or not they should be considered working moms?
WEST: [...] Go to any military installation and go on that installation to a stay-at-home mom that is taking care of that family and that household why, or even a husband, a spouse, the primary person that’s deployed, and tell them that they’re not really working. I don’t think you’ll be walking off that military installation the same way that you walked onto it.
KEYES: What about mothers who are on welfare though? Do you think they should be allowed to stay at home and raise their children?
WEST: I think that what we need to do is how do we reduce the growth of the entitlement or the nanny state. Coming from the inner city, a good thing of the Great Society programs of Lyndon Johnson, I think now you’re talking about second and third and getting towards fourth generation of welfare. And as I showed up there, I don’t want more people depending on the federal government. I want more people to be out there and enjoying the American dream.
Staying at home and raising kids is absolutely work, as any parent will attest. The problem is that conservatives like West will only defend the work of stay-at-home moms when they live in financially secure homes, while backing welfare reforms that prevent lower income mothers from doing the same.