Politics

04.14.14

Message From the GOP: Hey, Poor People, You’re Not Real Americans

It’s not about the budget, and it has nothing to do with concern about drugs—it’s about harassing a particular class of Americans who need help.

Looks like its time for another season of America’s favorite political sport: demonizing folks on welfare. 

Last month, the RNC announced that welfare would be one of the top issues they want to hammer home in the 2014 midterms. And on the local level, this isn’t just bumper-sticker campaign slogans, its being put into place as policy.

Here’s the deal: Beginning July 1 in Mississippi, anyone applying for welfare will be subjected to a questionnaire asking whether they use drugs. If their answers reveal possible drug use, they will have to pee in the cup. If they fail, they will have to undergo treatment in order to get paid.

Gov. Phil Bryant declared in a press release that “The (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) is a safety net for families in need, and adding this screening process will aid adults who are trapped in a dependency lifestyle so they can better provide for their children. This measure will help make a positive difference for families impacted by substance abuse.”

Mississippi’s bill was signed into law after a federal judge in Florida ruled the state's drug testing plan for welfare recipients was unconstitutional. But that hasn't stopped other Republican lawmakers for going the tried and true route of demonizing those on welfare. It’s as if no other class of people in America does drugs.

The Michigan Senate passed a bill similar to Mississippi: if you are deemed suspicious of drug use, you must take the test. If you refuse, no assistance.

Republican lawmakers say the bill is necessary to build better families.

So let me get this straight: Republican lawmakers believe that in order to rebuild the family structure in America, the best way is to make sure those who receive governmental assistance take a drug test.

But why not expand the idea? Seriously, why not pass a bill that says any person or company that receives any state funds must urinate in a cup?

Since these GOP lawmakers believe in strong families, why not require every business in Florida, Mississippi, Michigan—or any state that has passed such a law—that receives a state contract to submit to company-wide drug tests, from the CEO on down?

If any business in these states wants a tax break, then lawmakers should have the courage to tell these companies that if you want this deal, your employees must submit to drug testing? If welfare is bad, why is corporate welfare good?

Drugs affect every facet of American life. Rich. Poor. Democrat. Republican. Single. Married. So if the desire is to rid the nation of drugs and to get people the help they need, why not attach this provision to every dollar spent by the state?

Every lawmaker or candidate for state office should submit to drug testing. Let’s have all politicians, teachers, fire fighters, police officers, janitors and other workers on the state payroll get drug tested as well.

You and I know that this modest proposal is a non-starter. It would never happen. Why? Because in America, there is no greater political sport than to demonize those on welfare.

Politicians, largely Republicans, are good at playing up the class warfare by castigating the poor as being the reason why everything is bad in America. If Republican lawmakers want to show me they have some guts, put forth the bill that I’m proposing. But you won’t do it. Why not? Because it is easier to beat up on the helpless. And that's what such bills are about.