There are certain guests on the Sunday shows that we at C&L know will be good for some posts because each and every time they show up in front of the camera, they say something stupid. I'll let you figure out where Rand Paul falls into that calculus.
I don't think anyone has ever praised Rand Paul for particularly deep thinking, but in this clip from CNN's State of the Union, he displays quite perfectly the complete disconnect rampant in the GOP between acknowledgment of the issues facing Americans and how the GOP policies exacerbate them.
After denying to Candy Crowley that, despite all evidence to the contrary, the GOP have launched a war on women, Paul treads oddly in the realm of facts.
CROWLEY: I want to ask you, there’s been a bit of a dust up over some remarks you made this week which seemed to suggest there was a way the government might halt aid to single women who receive government poverty funds if they keep having children. Can you explain to me what you meant?
PAUL: Well, actually I said kinda the opposite. That a lot of times the government can’t do anything about this. But the number one cause in the country, and I don’t think you can debate this, of poverty is having kids before you’re married. But I tell people over and over again I can’t make you get married, I can’t do anything about that. But what I would say is that we shouldn’t just give up. The community, ministers, pastors, parents, grandparents, we need to be saying, and this is maybe one of the most important things we ought be saying that doesn’t have a specific policy prescription but we need to be telling our kids that poverty is linked to having children before you’re married. The institution of marriage is incredibly important, not just as a religious institution, but as an economic institution.
Whoa, whoa, whoa! As much as it goes against everything I believe in, I have to agree with Paul. Studies have shown that the circumstance of single motherhood is a big predictor of poverty.
Ninety percent of single-parent families are headed by females. Not surprisingly, single mothers with dependent children have the highest rate of poverty across all demographic groups (Olson & Banyard, 1993). Approximately 60 percent of U.S. children living in mother-only families are impoverished, compared with only 11 percent of two-parent families. The rate of poverty is even higher in African-American single-parent families, in which two out of every three children are poor.
Past research has indicated that children from single-parent families are more likely to experience less healthy lives, on the average, than children from intact families. For instance, children growing up with only one parent are more likely to drop out of school, bear children out of wedlock, and have trouble keeping jobs as young adults.
But then the willfully blind libertarian streak unfurls and Rand Paul loses me:
CROWLEY: So you did not suggest that women who continue to have children, that are receiving poverty aid…
PAUL: I didn’t come up with …. It’s kind of tricky to say exactly what I did say. I didn’t come up with a policy prescription. I would say I mused about what are we going to do and does government have a role in it and I mostly concluded by saying it’s a community, it’s a religious, it’s a personal problem, but it is a problem. And I mused about how you’d have a government policy, but actually, I came down saying it would be very difficult to have a government policy. But many people have fought about this, it’s just a matter of how you would institute a government policy that didn’t create incentives to have more children. And it’s not that I’m against children. I come from a large family and I think we all…you know, it’s wonderful. But it needs… in the right context, it can lead to a great life, but in the wrong context, it can really be a burden for those who aren’t yet married.
Muse on this, you Objectivist nightmare: You and your ideological brethren *are* interested in creating a government policy. Unfortunately, the ones you want--making access to birth control and reproductive services more difficult, severely limiting access to abortions, cutting what little funding goes to poverty-level single mothers and refusing to expand health benefits to children, child care, early education and student aid--will actually EXACERBATE the problem by eliminating any avenue for a single mother to rise out of the cycles of poverty.
Yes, it would be lovely if every child born in the US was born wanted by a two parent household that could afford that child. But until the Republicans start meeting their rhetoric with government policies to encourage that, the reality is that they will continue to incent the opposite of the values they claim to hold dear.