A tax break for breast-feeding could reduce government spending -- so why is the Tea Party attacking Michelle Obama's support for it?
Poor Michelle Obama can't get a break. She's chastised for promoting such seemingly reasonable things as getting more exercise and eating fruits and vegetables. Now Republican Grizzly Mamas are condemning her for advocating—I can't believe I'm writing this—breast feeding.
As Grist reports, Obama began to publicly endorse breast feeding around the same time the Internal Revenue Service announced that breast pumps would be eligible for tax breaks. Tea Partier Michelle Bachmann and former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin (who one assumes, perhaps wrongly, breastfed at least some of her brood) responded by accusing the First Lady of pushing a leftist agenda. In characteristic form Palin issued this rational response: "No wonder Michelle Obama's telling everybody, 'you'd better breast-feed your baby.' Yeah, you'd better, because the price of milk is so high right now!"
Breast pumps are expensive ($75 to $350). Surely a tax credit would help ease the financial burden enough to encourage more women to consider breast feeding, which has been shown to protect babies from infections and illnesses such as diarrhea, ear infections, and pneumonia, prevent the development of asthma, and reduce the incidence of childhood obesity, just to name a few benefits. And frankly it's radically more economical than formula (which, at about $1 an ounce, is so pricey it sends legions of new sleepy parents on inaugural visits to Costco to buy in bulk).
It is disappointing to say the least to witness yet another Tea Party response like this one, which amounts to, "You say yes, so I say no." Where's the family values part in Bachmann and Palin's retort?