Sunday, April 5, 2009
Drug Testing for Welfare Recipients
La. State Representative John LaBruzzo (R-Metairie) has proposed mandatory drug testing for all adults receiving state subsidies. The Legislature convenes April 27.
So far he has received some murmurings of support. Two Senate District 16 candidates have expressed some support for the bill. But not everyone is in favor of this idea, as you might expect. One such opponent is Times-Picayune columnist James Gill.
Gill compares the move to something David Duke would do. Gill contends that welfare money is intended to help deserving families temporarily down on their luck.
Now here's the problem, as I see it. Gill blasts LaBruzzo's plan by saying that "the law already recognizes that the fruits of honest toil should not be diverted to idle stoners. Applicants are required to fill in a questionnaire, and those whose answers indicate possible drug use are tested and required to undergo counseling and treatment in order to receive benefits."
Oh, so THAT'S how it works! Golly gosh we know that people don't ever lie on something like a government form, right? I mean, you're trying to get free money. And if they ask you if you use drugs, what are you going to say? You going to check the "yes" box or the "no" box? Because if you check the "yes" box....
Gill could take a lesson from Dr. Greg House: "People lie."
Gill also points out the fact that federal courts have ruled "in striking down a Michigan statute, that universal 'suspicionless' testing of welfare recipients violates the Fourth Amendment." So, if this finding is accurate, how are we able to do employee drug screens? What is the difference, really?
Gill even goes so far as to say that LaBruzzo's efforts are "classic Louisiana legislation -- an unconstitutional solution to a problem that doesn't exist." Gill makes the accurate point that welfare numbers are currently quite low but then erroneously concludes that drug testing is therefore not necessary.
He says that "the rationale for cracking down on welfare recipients made more sense in Duke's day, because there were so many more of them. Back then, welfare was pretty much an open-ended proposition, but ever since the Bill Clinton adminsitration, nobody has been able to draw it for more than 60 months lifetime."
Mr. Gill might do well to study more current history. The Porkulus bill, signed in April, just undid Bill Clinton's welfare reform. Now states will once again be paid for expanding their welfare rolls. And the benefits are now open-ended, rather than limited to five years. Good times!
So we are headed back to the good old days; for example, figures from the State Department of Social Services show recipients of the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program have fallen from 280,177 in 1990-91 to 13,504 people in 2006-07. This year that number is 11,500 residents. The objective has been to get people off welfare if possible, and into productive, self-sustaining lives, and it's been working! But, under the Obama plan, we're headed back up the scale, or down the hole, and creating a new generation of governmental dependents.
I'm in no way opposed to helping families that need assistance. I am opposed to people that abuse the system and despite what Mr. Gill seems to believe, they are certainly out there. All LaBruzzo's plan would do would be to protect those families that deserve the assistance and to force those people that don't to clean up.