by Julie Boler
As you may know, GOP governors & legislators in several states have pushed for laws like this one, requiring drug tests for folks wanting food stamps, unemployment, and other forms of public assistance.
That hasn’t really turned out well for them.
Matter of fact, politicians who push for these laws get bit in the ass and abandon the requirements sometimes, because there’s this thing where applicants show lower rates of drug use than the general population.
A few Republican state leaders have admitted their surprise at results like this. I think the reason they’ve been caught off guard is that, like Speaker Ryan, they have a vague image of those who apply for public assistance as low-life moochers on drugs, trying to scam the government.
That leads to their confusion.
Some of us are less surprised. Because we have a vague image of those who apply for public assistance as . . . regular people. In tough life circumstances. Doing the best they can. Sometimes so desperate they need help just to stay afloat. Sometimes finding themselves in the midst of whole generations of such desperation, wondering how to find their way out, only hoping in the meantime to keep the lights on and their kids’ bellies full, and something coming in to pay the rent with while they look to replace a job they’ve been laid off from.
Anyway. Everyone has their own perspective.
And hey, we could be the ones wrong.
But so far, the drug-test/social-experiments GOP leaders in a handful of states have done have indicated there might be more accuracy in our vague image than in theirs.
Just to mention.
But back to this new bill – the drug-test-before-unemployment-benefits bill that House Leader Paul Ryan is so giddy about being “another one head(ing) to President Trump’s desk.”
I'm curious. Why spend the money, after seeing Republicans at the state level deeming it a waste - even an embarrassment - on legislation like this?
You don't suppose . . . could it simply be a device of some kind? Like, legislation as propaganda, designed to crystallize their vague notion in the eyes of the voter? Maybe in the run-up to the budget battle that lies ahead?
Because there's nothing like stoking suspicion about the very character of the poor to give folks a taste for axing programs that provide assistance to families for rent and heat, after-school programs, legal aid, and job-training.
And that’s the real Ryan goal, hardly hidden; the long game: tossing programs such as this, that coddle the poor, with hot meals for seniors, apples, grapes, and carrots for poor kids, and, you know, job training and such.
There are some moderate legislators who are aghast at the near-apocalyptic shades of the budget battles to come, shades provided by the president’s own austerity-on-steroids budget just released.
Some of these folks, even in the GOP, will need convincing. So let's see what kind of openings that gives us. Let's see what sort of convincing we might do.
Why don’t we kind of keep an eye on the machinations ahead, as a contingent of Congress gets steely-eyed about pushing their heartbreaking agenda forward. It seems a little scary, what with the "vague notion" they are guided by. And they can be pretty smooth and convincing when they get stuck on a theme.
So let’s pay attention.