Speaker of the House (and father of three) Paul Ryan is thinking about the need for “higher birth rates” in the United States. OK!!!
Here’s the full context of Ryan’s comments:
I know I’m riffing here, but this is something I feel very strongly about. There’s three things we’re trying to do right now to get this economy humming, to reach its potential:
Fix the regulatory problem. We have been just slamming businesses over the last eight years with the Obama regulatory state. That is a massive hidden cost of doing business. It’s a huge hidden tax. We’re making great progress on that.
Reform the tax code so we can get faster economic growth, more jobs, higher wages, bigger paychecks. We’re in the middle of doing that.
People. This is going to be the new economic challenge for America. People. Baby boomers are retiring. I did my part, but we need to have higher birth rates in this country. Meaning, baby boomers are retiring and we have fewer people following them in the workforce. We have something like a 90 percent increase in the retirement population in America, but only a 19 percent increase in the working population in America. So what do we have to do? Be smarter, more efficient, more technology. Still gonna need more people. And when we have tens of millions of people right here in this country falling short of their potential—not working, not looking for a job, or not in school getting a skill to get a job—that’s a problem. So that’s why we need to tackle these things.
Ironically, at the very same press conference, Ryan took time to admonish single mothers—aka people having the babies he’s so desperate for—who depend on government aid, thus putting a faux-positive spin on Ronald Reagan’s favorite political boogeyman, the Welfare Queen:
You know who basically pays the highest tax rate in America? It’s the single mom with two kids getting $24 grand in benefits who will lose 80 cent on the dollar if she goes and takes a job. That is a problem. We are trapping people in lives of dependency and poverty, and they are making rational decisions. So let’s fix that. Let’s change our welfare laws so we push and pull people out of poverty into the workforce.
Ryan loves to assume that people who get government aid are not working—a line that has to be proven false again and again and again. Never mind that women make up two-thirds of low-wage workers in the United States, according to a 2016 report from the National Women’s Law Center. Never mind that, three quarters of the 6 million low-wage working parents are mothers. Never mind that the vast majority of low-wage working mothers are women of color or immigrants. The real problem, Ryan tells us, is that we have a “culture of dependency.”
More broadly, Ryan’s argument is that American women need to pop out more babies, so that they can raise them to be Good American Workers, who can then be worked through the gears of American capital to provide more low-wage labor to more corporations, so that more C-suite executives and shareholders can reap more profits off the backs of workers, all while getting a tax cut from Ryan and his friends. I mean, really—why are American women so selfish?
Maybe American women would feel more inclined to have children if they could be assure that Congress will reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program, thus restoring critical care to 8.9 million children and 370,000 pregnant women. Unfortunately, that’s just not a priority on Speaker Ryan’s agenda right now!! Ryan’s agenda is about people, not women.
But hey, who needs health care to live? Keep popping out those babies, ladies! It’s the patriotic thing to do. Just lie back and think of Paul Ryan.