Gillibrand on 1981 Biden op-ed pushback: 'Give me a break'

Gillibrand kept attacking Biden over a 1981 op-ed on child care.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D- N.Y., on Thursday continued her attack against former vice president Joe Biden over a 1981 op-ed the then- Sen. Biden authored arguing against the expansion of a childcare tax credit.

"What he wrote (in) an op-ed was that he believed that women working outside the home would quote: 'create the deterioration of family.' He also said that women who were working outside the home were quote: 'avoiding responsibility,'" Gillibrand said during Wednesday night's Democratic debate in Detroit.

"That was a long time ago," Biden shot back. "And here's what it was about. It would have given people making -- today -- $100,000 a year a tax break for childcare. I did not want that. I wanted the childcare to go to people making less than $100,000. And that's what it was about."

Biden's op-ed, entitled "Congress is Subsidizing Deterioration of Family" argued against the expansion of the tax credit for families making more than the equivalent of $85,000 in today's dollars -- or more if they chose to have two parents work. Biden argued that it was more beneficial for children to have a parent stay at home with a child, and even went so far as to say that families who chose to have two working parents not out of necessity were an example of the "cancer of materialism."

But fact checks have pointed out Biden did not specifically single out women in the article 40 years ago. Rather, he talked about parents in general, and in an article from the same time said it was up to families to decide if they "want the man or the woman to take that (childcare) responsibility."

"Give me a break, give me a break. Who in 1981 was going to be staying home to watch the children? It's obvious. Typically, in most families, women. Women are still the primary caregivers," Gillibrand said when pushed on the clarification on CNN's "New Day."

Pew Research data shows that while dual-income families were on the rise in the 1980s, for single income households, it was far more common for fathers to be the sole breadwinner for families than mothers.

"We need women of America who must work. Most of us must work and many of us want to help our communities, whether we're nurses or doctors or whether teachers or members of Congress. To say that our work is somehow deteriorating the family, I think is an outrageous statement. But worst, to say that we're avoiding responsibility," Gillibrand said

"I just need to know that our nominee is going to be a champion of national paid leave, affordable daycare, universal pre-K."

On the campaign trail, Biden has said that he supports universal pre-K, and giving a tax credit to families for child care.

A campaign aide said Biden's plan would give up to an $8,000 tax credit to families needing childcare, phasing out the credit for families making above $200,000 a year.

When asked about the difference between Biden's position today and in 1981, the aide said that the underlying principles remained the same: that families in need of help to access quality child care should get it.

Biden also pointed out on the debate stage he was a single father for five years after a car crash claimed the life of his first wife and daughter, and both his late wife and current wife worked outside the home--a fact Jill Biden pointed out on Twitter herself.

"I'm Joe Biden's wife....full time mother and grand-mother, full time teacher, and full time campaigner. #WomenRule #TeamJoe," Dr. Biden tweeted during the debate Wednesday.