Department of “Huh?”

Let me see if I have this straight. When Hilary Rosen pointed out that Ann Romney doesn’t have a clue about the struggles of women in the workplace because she’s never actually been in a workplace, she was insulting all mothers (including herself) by suggesting that making a home and raising kids wasn’t actual work.

But when Mitt Romney says that women trying to raise children under far less favorable circumstances than the Romneys could possible imagine need to leave the kids in lousy day-care settings and get paying jobs to “have the dignity of work,” that’s just common sense and Amurrican values.

Or something.

As Ezra Klein points out, as a matter of public policy this country doesn’t consider stay-at-home mothering as “work.” We don’t count stay-at-home moms as being in the workforce; they don’t get quarters toward Social Security eligibility; the value of the services they provide, like other home production, isn’t factored into GDP.

I could respect the GOP apparatchiki if I thought they actually believed their shtick. Mike Huckabee has the dignity of actually meaning what he says, even if I think most of it is wrong-headed or worse. Even Rick Santorum at least is a genuine exponent of the idea that “religious freedom” means freedom of the TV preachers and Catholic bishops to use the power of the state to impose their twisted morality on the rest of us.

But Romney? And his enablers? Feh.

Footnote Also worth noting that “means testing” effectively puts a huge marginal tax rate on the earnings of poor people. But the very same Republicans who insist that another 3 points on the marginal income tax rate for hedge-fund managers would collapse their work effort has no problem with benefit phaseouts amounting to marginal tax rates of well over 50%.

[Cross-posted at The Reality-Based Community]

Mark Kleiman

Mark Kleiman is a professor of public policy at the New York University Marron Institute.