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Kristin's picture
 Deep breath. Count to 10. Can't. Believe. He. Really. Said. That.

Yesterday at a Washington Post event, Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant (R) said that America is so "mediocre" in educational outcomes because "mom is in the workplace."

... oh REALLY?!

There is steam coming out of the ears of moms across America.

Governor Bryant deserves a Hall of Shame trophy for blaming moms (moms!) for the failure of our nation's leaders to step up. But before that Hall of Shame of shame is built, the moms of America need an apology from him.

The problem in our nation isn't that moms are working, it's that our nation isn't working for moms.

And Governor Bryant isn't insulting a small number of people here: Most women (over 80 percent!) become moms at some point in their lives.

Statements like this one from Governor Bryant are about passing the buck. The fact of the matter is that we have a modern society, with 3/4 of moms in the labor force, but we're far behind the rest of the world when it comes to systems that allow both contemporary families and businesses to thrive.

There's a disturbing pattern happening that needs to be broken. The governor made this statement on the heels of Fox News "pundits" saying that working moms are a sign of "society dissolving around us," and that mom breadwinners are against "biology," in a moment that made us all check our calendars to make sure we hadn't time-traveled. All this is sparked by a Pew study showing that moms are breadwinners.

America is behind, but it's not because of moms. It's because:

    • Over 177 countries have some form of paid family and medical leave so that new moms and infants can recover and get established, while the U.S. doesn't have that policy in place at the national level.
    • Over 160 countries have some form of guaranteed minimum number of sick days, but the U.S. isn't one of them.
    • Many countries have made high quality childcare affordable and accessible while the U.S. lags behind with childcare now costing more than college.
    • The minimum wage is outdated and hasn't kept pace with inflation. In some states, tipped-workers, the majority of whom are women (many of whom are moms) earn a jaw-droppingly low $2.13 per hour.

Investments in all of these policy areas have been shown to have high returns as children grow, as well as to give a boost to businesses and our economy, and to help lower the wage gaps between women and men, by the way.

We all know "mediocrity" isn't coming from working moms. It's coming from leaders like Governor Bryant who say they value families, but don't put their money where their mouth is when it comes to updating our public policies for families and businesses.

Statements like this one from Governor Bryant, and the ones from the Fox News "pundits," hurt our pocketbooks and our national economy by helping to justify wage and hiring discrimination against moms. This is a very real issue and problem. In 2013, women overall still only make 77 cents to a man's dollar for full-time, year-round work, with mothers and women of color experiencing the biggest wage hits. In fact, one study found that with equal resumes and job experiences moms were offered jobs 80 percent less of the time than non-moms, and were offered $11,000 lower starting salaries for highly paid positions. Dads, on the other hand were offered $6,000 higher starting salaries than non-dads. Since women make three-quarters of all purchasing decisions in our economy (which is based on consumer spending), when we don't have adequate funds to spend, it hurts our entire economy.

Moms are working hard, playing by the rules, and too many are still having trouble making ends meet. A full quarter of young families in our nation are living in poverty, and the USDA reports that nearly one in four children are experiencing food scarcity due to family economic limitations.

It now costs $200,000 to raise a child from birth to age 18, not including college. Working moms are making responsible choices to be able to put food on the table, a roof over their children's heads, and give their children access to educational opportunities so they can grow up to thriving and be the economic engine of our nation's future.

And these men are worried about women who are working!?

They need a reality check.

It's long past time for our nation to update our outdated public policies relating to childcare, family leave, sick days, and more -- as many other countries have already done -- and it's also past time for our leaders to put resources where their mouth is on family values.

Let's have a little respect for hard-working moms and the impossible juggling act they do every day to raise their families in a system stacked again them.

It's time for Governor Bryant to apologize, and it's time for our nation to get moving to modernize our public policies for families and businesses alike.

Originally published at The Huffington Post Politics section.

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