Repulsive Scott Walker Decides To Harass Unemployment And Food Stamp Recipients With Drug Tests
November 11, 2014

Infamous Koch toady Scott Walker of course wants to appeal to the authoritarian-loving, blame-spreading wingnut voters by punishing those unfortunate enough to need unemployment insurance or food stamps. Since so few people are caught in these drug dragnets, clearly one purpose is to play to the rubes -- and the other, to line the pockets of whichever political crony they award the contract. He really is a disgusting little man:

As he polishes his conservative resume for a likely 2016 president campaign, newly re-elected Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) will propose a system for drug testing everyone who receives unemployment insurance or food stamps from the state. The governor’s office has not yet produced details of a drug testing plan Walker promised during his reelection campaign, the Wisconsin State Journal reports.

Walker’s attempt to police the poor faces legal hurdles that have derailed similar, recent laws in Georgia and Florida. Wisconsin would become the 12th state to have a drug testing law on the books for anti-poverty program participants. At the federal level, conservatives have pushed legislation to prevent federal aid dollars from being spent at or even near marijuana dispensaries in states where that drug is legal.Numerous critics say such policies are unnecessary and stigmatizing of low-income families who rely on public assistance programs. Drug testing for unemployment insurance benefits is “expensive and redundant,” according to National Employment Law Project senior staff attorney Rebecca Dixon. No state would provide unemployment insurance to someone who lost their job because of drug use or a failed drug test, Dixon said, because a drug-related discharge would be disqualifying. “The uninsurance program is based on work. Your former work and your willingness to work underwrite the insurance. It’s based on things that are related to your job loss,” Dixon said in an interview. “If the drug use is related to the job loss, it’s already covered in the law. So there’s no need to create a law to drug test every single person.”

Several states have implemented program’s like the one Walker has promised, but the outcomes of the testing regimes suggest Dixon and other critics are right. Tennessee has found one drug user out of 800 welfare recipients tested. With an overall drug use rate of 8 percent in Tennessee, the crackdown indicates that the poor are 64 times less likely to use drugs than everyone else. Utah spent $30,000 testing welfare recipients and produced just 12 positive tests. While 6 percent of Utahns overall say they use drugs, the state’s tests found drug use by just 2.5 percent of those tested and 0.2 percent of the total welfare recipient population. Florida’s version of the system found the rate of drug use is four times lower among welfare recipients than among the general population. (Courts have ruled Florida’s system unconstitutional, but Gov. Rick Scott (R) remains committed to a program that would spend hundreds of millions of dollars on the tests each year.)

While food stamps recipients are a bit more likely to use drugs casually than the general population according to one study, age is a far better predictor of drug use than economic status or public assistance enrollment. And the raw numbers are too low to justify a dragnet policy of testing everyone who applies, according to critics at theAmerican Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Canada.

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