Mara Gay at Politics Daily:
Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) has proposed an amendment to the jobs bill today that would require Americans seeking unemployment benefits and welfare to pass a drug test.
He said the current social safety net only feeds their addiction to both illegal substances and help from the federal government.
“Too many Americans are locked into a life of a dangerous dependency not only on drugs, but the federal assistance that serves to enable their addiction,” the senator said in a statement. “Drugs are a scourge on our society — hurting children, families and communities alike.”
The amendment comes as an attempt to pass the $140 billion jobs bill failed in the Senate. The bill would extend unemployment benefits for millions of Americans, but its price tag has elicited objections from both Republicans and Democrats.
Hatch said his amendment would help save taxpayer money and reduce the national deficit.
“This amendment is a way to help people get off of drugs to become productive and healthy members of society, while ensuring that valuable taxpayer dollars aren’t wasted,” the senator said today.
Joan McCarter at Daily Kos:
Being unemployed just isn’t denigrating enough for Orrin Hatch. You have to be punished it for, put under suspicion. That’s the Republican way. What’s next? Poor houses?
A while back, Matt Yglesias wrote an insightful piece arguing that “ideas about freedom and small government are totally irrelevant to the actual political agenda [of the Republican Party].” I was reminded of it by the news that small-government advocate Orrin Hatch wants the state to perform mandatory drug tests on every one of the 15 million people receiving unemployment insurance or welfare benefits.
Meredith Jessup at Townhall:
I can hear the ACLU’s screams of injustice now. Truth be told, this seems like such a basic, commonsense notion. It’s definitely not a new idea, but props to Sen. Hatch for reintroducing it, especially at a time when the country can’t afford to waste a dime.
Annie Lowrey at Washington Independent:
Currently, about 4.4 million families receive assistance through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. On top of that, 9.8 million people are receiving unemployment insurance in some form. Millions more get other kinds of aid. Granted, the federal government does plenty of drug testing already, but does it really want to process 15 million new urine samples? Plus pay for all the court cases the law would create? The Drug Policy Alliance notes that “a 2003 ruling by a federal appeals court that covers the states of Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee ruled that states cannot drug test welfare recipients because it’s unconstitutional.”s.
Matt Welch at Reason:
This is, alas, nothing new. In addition to social-welfare recipients, lawmakers have identified several other sub-classes of people ripe for being forced by the state to urinate on command, including (but not limited to) student athletes, kids who dare take part in other extra-curricular activities, and even kids who do nothing all day but draw “I Heart Conor” in their Pee-Chees. (They still have those, right?)
Always missing from these flippant tramplings of our privacy rights are two classes of people: Lawmakers themselves, and recipients of corporate welfare. Wouldn’t you feel just a little safer if Patrick Kennedy got his fluids checked on regular basis? Ya think some of those juicy subsidies for film productions ever land in the hands of people who use drugs?
The moral of the story here is not new, but bears repeating: If you are at all dependent on the state, whether by choice or force, and you don’t have the good manners to be powerful, you will always stand the risk of being treated like a patient at a criminal asylum. It is as good a reason as any other to resist further encroachment of the government on our private lives.
Famed Utah hazzan Senator Orrin Hatch proposed an amendment to the $140 billion jobs benefits extension bill today that would make make people seeking welfare benefits first pass a drug test. Welfare will now be a level playing field, as poor people will not be able to get away with taking steroids to make themselves super-poor. And also poor drug addicts will maybe starve and thus no longer be a problem, so that’s good.