“Why should we expect young mothers to work and not young fathers?”…[Mayor Michael Bloomberg] asked, a reference to the 1996 welfare reform law that, with the EITC, “led millions of people into the labor market, where they attained the dignity of work and a chance to rise out of poverty.” With that, he said, the welfare caseload in New York City had dropped by a third over the past five years.
“Right now,” he continued, “fathers are missing from our strategy to drive down the poverty rate. The gains that we’ve made over the past 10 years have been fueled by mothers. ”¦ If we are going to achieve another round of substantial gains ”¦ we have to do more to connect fathers to jobs and to their families. We have to increase the rewards for work. ”¦”
Among the changes he suggested is eliminating the EITC “marriage penalty” for families with and without children. “Marriage increase a family’s chances of rising out of poverty ”” why would government discourage it? It shouldn’t. ”¦ The EITC should be a catalyst for fathers to fulfill their obligations as responsible spouses, parents and citizens.”
No hot-button cultural rhetoric there. Dry. Nuts-and-bolts.
To the extent that influential voices are dissuaded from addressing vital issues, such as the consequences of the missing father, because they themselves aren’t poor or have failed marriages, everybody loses. Imagine the treatment had Bloomberg chosen to talk about the real dynamic driving poverty, the creation of babies without bothering to marry.