But there really is a profound difference here. The Obama administration, more or less, wants to encourage women’s full participation in the American economy. They’re advancing that goal through legislation barring pay discrimination and through legal abortion and subsidized contraception. They’re reforming the individual health insurance market so women will no longer pay higher premiums than men, so women will have an easier time switching jobs and launching businesses. They’ve proposed doubling the child care tax credit, one of several working class tax benefits that would be eliminated under the Romney/Ryan plan.
By contrast, Romney has nothing. He doesn’t say women should go back to the kitchen, stop working, and instead do the much harder and more important job of raising kids full time. But he doesn’t want to spend any money or burden any business with any kind of rules or programs that would push us to a new more egalitarian equilibrium. Nor does his lip service to the values of full-time childrearing seem to have any content. He thinks the idea of paying poor women to stay at home and raise kids is outrageous, and certainly doesn’t encourage fathers to engage in the much harder and more important job of full-time homemaking. He’s a guy who loves his wife and wants to say something nice about her when given the opportunity to talk on a national stage, and he’s a guy who doesn’t want to do anything to address the challenges that parents face in an economic environment shaped around the obsolete expectation that behind every working man there’s a full-time homemaker. But he’s not a guy who in any way acts as if there’s any content to his belief that full-time parenting is harder and more important that entrepreneurship or market labor.