Lawmakers in at least eight states want recipients of
The effort comes as more Americans turn to these safety nets to ride out the recession. Poverty and civil liberties advocates fear the strategy could backfire, discouraging some people from seeking financial aid and making already desperate situations worse. (It could backfire in an even worse way for the drug warriors and everyone else using our tax dollars to fight an endless, extremely expensive "war on drugs" which we lost years ago. Wars are expensive, even if they are already lost. In this case, especially if the war has already been lost.)
Those in favor of the drug tests say they are motivated out of a concern for their constituents' health and ability to put themselves on more solid financial footing once the economy rebounds. But proponents concede they also want to send a message: you don't get something for nothing. (Yeah right, we all know how concerned these people are for their so-called constituents. That's why many of them voted for policies which led us over an economic cliff for campaign support from their real constituents, some of whom may not even be in the state they represent, not to mention their districts, but all of whom stood to get wealthier of said policies.)
"Nobody's being forced into these assistance programs," said
Lawmakers in other states are offering similar, but more modest proposals.
On Wednesday, the
A January attempt in the
In the past, such efforts have been stymied by legal and cost concerns, said
"It's an example of where you could cut costs at the expense of a segment of society that's least able to defend themselves," said
Drug testing is not the only restriction envisioned for people receiving public assistance: a bill in the
would cap lottery winnings for recipients at Tennessee Legislature . (Perhaps they should be sterilized as well...snark. After all, kids are expensive.) $600
There seems to be no coordinated move around the country to push these bills, and similar proposals have arisen periodically since federal welfare reform in the 1990s. But the appearance of a cluster of such proposals in the midst of the recession shows lawmakers are newly engaged about who is getting public assistance.
Particularly troubling to some policy analysts is the drive to drug test people collecting unemployment insurance, whose numbers nationwide now exceed 5.4 million, the highest total on records dating back to 1967.
"It doesn't seem like the kind of thing to bring up during a recession," said
Indeed, these proposals are coming at a time when more Americans find themselves in need of public assistance.
Although the number of TANF recipients has stayed relatively stable at 3.8 million in the last year, claims for unemployment benefits and
In December, more than 31.7 million Americans were receiving
The link between public assistance and drug testing stems from the Congressional overhaul of welfare in the 1990s, which allowed states to implement drug testing as a condition of receiving help.But a federal court struck down a
At least six states —
They also cost less than the
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The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.