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What fun! The latest political game sweeping the nation is called “Pee on the Poor.” Republican lawmakers in some 30 states – including Florida, Georgia, Indiana, and (of course) Texas – are competing to be national champions of this X-treme right-wing sport.
Being poor used to be considered its own punishment, but in a rush to pander to their fringiest anti-government constituencies, GOP governors and legislators are trying to add state harassment and humiliation to the burden of people in poverty. Bellowing such bellicose words as “moochers” and “takers” at their targets, these politicians want to force welfare recipients to submit to drug tests before getting any financial aid.
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Curiously, corporations – which enjoy millions more in welfare payments than the poor – are not included in any of the Republican pee-in-the-cup proposals. Curious-er yet, the Republican pushers of this overbearing state intrusion piously pose as “small government” conservatives.
It turns out, though, that they’re not very skilled gamers. Florida took an early lead in the right-wing competition, but its drug-test mandate cost taxpayers more than it saved, because so few welfare recipients tested positive. A federal appeals court recently suspended the Sunshine State’s dark law, pointedly noting that there’s no evidence that “simply because an applicant for [welfare] benefits is having financial problems, he is also drug-addicted.”
Then an Indiana legislator made a run, but he was tripped up when Democrats passed an amendment requiring drug testing for state lawmakers, as well as the poor. The sad sack Republican had to pull his bill, but he huffily claimed that he would “be happy to take the test.”
Yeah, but what about an IQ test? This gaming of the poor isn’t merely mean-spirited, it’s just plain mean.
“Courts Shoot Down Law Making Florida’s Poor Pee in a Cut to Receive Benefits,” www.alternet.com, February 28, 2013.
“Welfare Drug Testing Bill Withdrawn After Amended to Include Testing Lawmakers,” www.huffingtonpost.com, January 27, 2012.