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Obama calls for preschool spending boost
Says it will support working women
In a Rhode Island speech, President Obama said women leave employment to stay at home with their kids and earn lower wages for life. "And that's not a choice we want Americans to make," he said, calling for more funding of high-quality preschools. - photo by

Speaking on making women equal partners in the economy, President Barack Obama made a statement last week that has some advocates for stay-at-home mothers up in arms.

“And too often, parents have no choice but to put their kids in cheaper daycare that maybe doesn’t have the kinds of programming that makes a big difference in a child’s development. And sometimes there may just not be any slots, or the best programs may be too far away. Sometimes, someone -- usually mom -- leaves the workplace to stay home with the kid, which then leaves her earning a lower wage for the rest of her life as a result. And that’s not a choice we want Americans to make,” he said Friday during a speech in Rhode Island.

The remarks caught the eye of a number of writers, including Sarah Jean Seman of “Now while this may be true for some individuals who cannot afford day-care, many women see it as privilege to be able to leave the workplace to invest in their loved ones, and, through the raising of the next generation, the future of their country,” she wrote. She suggested that “at best this was a slip of the tongue.”

Emily Morgan, writing for Headline and Global News, wrote that “The last statement inflamed some Americans who voluntarily make that ‘choice’ and want to be a stay-at-home parent for their young child.” She also recounted the well-publicized discussion sparked in 2012 when Democratic consultant Hilary Rosen disparaged then-presidential-candidate Mitt Romney’s wife Ann as “never working a day in her life.” Ann Romney responded with a tweet: “I made a choice to stay home and raise five boys. Believe me, it was hard work.”

Rosen ended up apologizing to Romney for the remark, but it sparked a great deal of discussion about women’s choices to work or stay home with their children.

Snopes, the noted myth-buster online site, called claims Obama was disparaging stay-at-home moms false. “It’s clear from the context of President Obama’s full remarks on 31 October 2014 his view wasn’t one that ‘slammed’ stay-at-home moms and stated ‘we’ don’t want anyone to choose to be a stay-at-home mom; rather, the choice to which he referred was for women to fairly have the option of deciding whether to remain in the workforce or to stay at home with their children, without (in the latter case) having to lose their place on the employment ladder and thus be relegated to earning lower wages for the rest of their working lives.”

The remark was part of a much broader speech that addressed many aspects of women’s lives. His topics included day care, equal pay and health care, among other topics.

“...Obama touted Rhode Island’s family leave policy in a speech on the economy and women Friday before giving Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gina Raimondo some last-minute support,” wrote the Associated Press‘ Jennifer McDermott.

“The president visited the college in Providence to talk about the economy and the importance of pursuing policies that help women succeed, including equal pay for women and a higher minimum wage. Around 2,500 tickets for the speech were given out,” she said.

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(This article was written prior to Tuesday’s election.)