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Tilting at Windmills

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June 16, 2010

REPUBLICANS JUST DON'T LIKE THE UNEMPLOYED, CONT'D.... If I didn't know better, I might think Republican lawmakers actively dislike -- on a personal level -- those who've lost their jobs in the recession.

One GOP congressman recently compared the unemployed to "hobos." Several Republicans have blocked extended benefits for the unemployed. In the House, GOP lawmakers tried to eliminate a successful jobs program.

But Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) is taking Republican revulsion for the jobless to new depths.

Hatch introduced an amendment to the tax extenders bill that would require those who are applying for some of the benefits in that bill, including unemployment and welfare benefits, to pass a drug test in exchange for the benefits.

"Drugs are a scourge on our society -- hurting children, families and communities alike," Hatch said in a statement. "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."

Under the Hatch amendment, individuals who fail to qualify for benefits because they failed a drug test wouldn't necessarily be jailed, but would be enrolled in a state or federal drug treatment program.

There are so many problems with such a ridiculous idea, I hardly to know where to start, but let's just focus on the most offensive angle to this: Hatch seems to think those who've lost their jobs should necessarily be suspected of drug abuse. What does the senator base his suspicions on? Nothing but his own twisted worldview.

I find it hard to imagine a proposal like this will go anywhere -- at least until there's a GOP majority again -- but it's nevertheless a startling reminder that the Republican Party just doesn't seem to like unemployed people.

Steve Benen 9:10 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (45)

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Newsflash: people who are looking for work are intentionally clean because of the possibility for a new-hire drug test.

What a clueless idiot. When's the last time Hatch was unemployed?

Put that in your pipe and smoke it. (Um, after you get hired, that is.)

Posted by: Rochester on June 16, 2010 at 9:14 AM | PERMALINK

Let's introduce monthly drug tests for all Congressmen and Congressional staffers, too. See how long Hatch still has anyone on his staff.

Posted by: Mike on June 16, 2010 at 9:16 AM | PERMALINK

but it's nevertheless a startling reminder that the Republican Party just doesn't seem to like unemployed people.

Let's just say it like it is, these guys are mean SOB's that don't much like anyone who isn't part of their tribe.

Posted by: AK Liberal on June 16, 2010 at 9:24 AM | PERMALINK

Note the underlying assumption.

"People can get work if they really want to. There's something wrong with those who don't/won't get a job." Whether it's laziness or drug addiction or something else, it's the unemployed folk's fault they're unemployed.

Posted by: Kirk on June 16, 2010 at 9:26 AM | PERMALINK

-Of course it's an asinine idea- Hatch is an asshole.

". . . enrolled in a state or federal drug treatment program."

" And how does "Small Government Hatch" plan to FUND his "federal program"?

-Here's an idea from the Progressive Left. Legalize drugs, then tax them to fund treatment programs. Sorta like taxing cigarettes to fund a stop smoking campaign. . .

Posted by: DAY on June 16, 2010 at 9:27 AM | PERMALINK

Let's not forget that Republicans believe that unemployment benefits are a disincentive to the unemployed to look for work.

As if there were lots of unfilled jobs out there that those lazy bums could have if they weren't receiving unemployment benefits.

Posted by: Okie on June 16, 2010 at 9:28 AM | PERMALINK

those would be the state or federal drug treatment programs whose budgets are being cut...
by republicans.

Posted by: mellowjohn on June 16, 2010 at 9:31 AM | PERMALINK

My first reaction was, "Never happen. How would they pay for it?"

Then, I remembered that they would likely cancel some school lunch program for inner-city youth, close social services offices, and reduce unemployment pay periods to only the first week after you've lost a job.

Now I'm worried.

Posted by: Perspecticus on June 16, 2010 at 9:34 AM | PERMALINK


In a corollary to your comment,

Repukes think it is the *same* people who are "always" unemployed, a restatement of the commonly used and rarely correct phrase about the "bottom 5% that never gets the word".

Stupid Repukes.

Posted by: IntelVet on June 16, 2010 at 9:37 AM | PERMALINK

And this clown claims to be serious about deficit reduction? Who's paying for these drugtests? Who's paying for treatment? The $400 a week the unemployed get is a bargain compared to Hatch's scheme.

Posted by: Stetson Kennedy on June 16, 2010 at 9:45 AM | PERMALINK

So nice that Mr. Hatch wants to throw additional tax dollars at a non-problem.
No wonder the Republicans are such horrible stewards of tax dollars.

Posted by: Paul Dirks on June 16, 2010 at 9:45 AM | PERMALINK

Actually, I think Hatch should be considering starting using drugs. I would recommend he consider Aricept, since he has clearly been sliding into dementia for a while now.

Posted by: dcsusie on June 16, 2010 at 9:47 AM | PERMALINK

Wouldn't it be cheaper to just give the hypothetical druggie unemployment? Drug treatment programs are expensive! Typical Republican, throwing money at a non-problem.

Posted by: biggerbox on June 16, 2010 at 9:48 AM | PERMALINK

Isn't one of the conditions to receive unemployment that you actively seek employment and provide names, addresses, and phone numbers for verification? Hatch is making an assumption that you should be searched simply because you are unemployed and receiving public assistance. Let's take it to anyone receiving public assistance to include food stamps and other similar programs, otherwise you are singling out the unemployed. Almost forgot the most important talking point, repeal the fourth amendment.

Posted by: flyonthewall on June 16, 2010 at 9:51 AM | PERMALINK

How about a test to indicate if you've ever heard of Orin Hatch? Benefits denied! This guy needs to get to the retirement home (with gramps McCain) ASAP!

What a miserable entitled old mother fucker. Last time I checked we paid your salary there King Douchebag!

Posted by: Trollop on June 16, 2010 at 9:51 AM | PERMALINK

I noticed years ago that a substantial part of the GOP actions and policies would not be changed if you assume that the GOP hated the poor. I am not saying that they do, but if a political party DID hate the poor, they would certainly draft the legislation and take the positions that the GOP does.

Posted by: Leisureguy on June 16, 2010 at 9:58 AM | PERMALINK

In related news

A new NPR poll has more bad news for Democrats. The Republican party is resurgent as voters express a clear preference for Republicans in a generic ballot.

If voters give Repukes a leg up in November, they are getting what they deserve.

Posted by: Winkandanod on June 16, 2010 at 10:01 AM | PERMALINK

Given this type of thought process and disgust for the "lower class" as well as "middle class" by these jokers, it's mind boggling that the GOP could win back the majorities to push their class warfare agenda/assault anew.

If that happens, then these "unemployed hobos" deserve what they get. America too. It's a continual source of amazement to me that americans , after 8 years of an all class warfare by the rich would want to repeat it by placing the likes of Hatch back in the driver seat to rerun the car back into the ditch. Nauseating...

Posted by: stevio on June 16, 2010 at 10:05 AM | PERMALINK

Hatch is one of the worst. He comes across (or tries to) as a "dignified", "statesmanlike" old pol etc. but that's cover for thinking like the bagopaths we here about more and more.

Posted by: neil b on June 16, 2010 at 10:08 AM | PERMALINK

On reflection though, some people with drug problems might have better job search progress with an incentive not to use them. I'm not convinced it's good Federal policy.

Posted by: neil b. on June 16, 2010 at 10:13 AM | PERMALINK

This from a man who pushed for legislation not only relieving makers of patent medicines (aka snake oil) from demonstrating their claims of efficacy, but even of the requirement to include in their products what they claim on the label as ingredients.

Posted by: jhm on June 16, 2010 at 10:16 AM | PERMALINK

Hatch and Republicans in general believe that if you're not rich and connected and well-off like they are, it's because you haven't worked hard enough or cannot pull up your own bootstraps.

The truth is that a majority of these misanthropes were born on third and think they hit a triple.

Posted by: terraformer on June 16, 2010 at 10:17 AM | PERMALINK

The Florida Legislature took this up recently. Naturally, it would have required the unemployed to pay for the tests out of their own pockets.

Naturally, too, there would be no additional money for processing the results or for drug treatment.

Hatch and like-minded Republicans apparently believe the current system of unemployment insurance just isn't slow or demeaning enough.

Posted by: P. Twistleton on June 16, 2010 at 10:33 AM | PERMALINK

You nailed it, Twistelton. Obviously, if you aren't willing to sacrifice your dignity and basic privacy for a job, you aren't trying hard enough.

Posted by: T-Rex on June 16, 2010 at 10:46 AM | PERMALINK

Let's add to the mix the fact that notwithstanding Hatch's often expressed reverence for the "Constitution" (or at least some constitution or other--the one he keeps talking about doesn't seem to resemble the one I'm familiar with), his little scheme to cut off benefits on the basis of a test unless the unemployed person gets unspecified "treatment" violates the Due Process Clause about half a dozen ways.

Posted by: Steve (Not That One) on June 16, 2010 at 11:07 AM | PERMALINK

They really, really just want a police state and they're edging us closer to it all the time. I think that is their core, a wish for a daddy to tell them what to do and when and how to do it. And all the rest of us too.

Posted by: LauraNo on June 16, 2010 at 11:18 AM | PERMALINK

More republican projection. Hatch just wants help for the huge Meth problem in Utah.

Posted by: ComradeAnon on June 16, 2010 at 11:37 AM | PERMALINK

Two points here:
1. Most folks out of work are looking for jobs. And, when hired, will be asked to take a drug test. Everyone knows this. So why sit around getting high when you know you will have to take a test?

2. Who is going to pay for all this testing? Who is going to administer and keep up with all this testing? I thought Republicans want gummit out of their lives? Oh, yeah, when it comes to our bodies the Federal Government can invade away.

Posted by: bobbob on June 16, 2010 at 11:58 AM | PERMALINK

Irony: A bunch of people who claim to love Jesus treating the poor worse than dirt, and fighting against providing health care for everyone.

I get the feeling these heartless assholes didn't bother to read the book ...

Posted by: Mark D on June 16, 2010 at 12:31 PM | PERMALINK

Obviously, with unemployment in excess of 10%, whether an individual is happy to be out of work, incapacitated by drugs, etc. is irrelevant--there just aren't any jobs.

This isn't about Hatch being clueless or anything like that. Hatch and the other Republicans in the Senate have made the determination that they would rather not spend more money on unemployment payments; in their view, the budget deficit is more of a problem. However, since they realize how cold-hearted this is, they manage to demonize the unemployed. "We're not being cruel; they have no one but themselves to blame." This is historically the universal response to human suffering that one isn't prepared to try to alleviate.

Posted by: DRF on June 16, 2010 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

Bah! Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?

Posted by: Max Bialystok on June 16, 2010 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

What a logistical nightmayer that would be... asidefrom the cost to the state... in Az with about 200,000 people receiving unemployment at $20 per test... that's $4,000,000 in extra expenses the state cannnot afford.

Posted by: KurtRex1453 on June 16, 2010 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

From an Associated Press News release today:

Unemployment bill dealt Senate defeat
Republicans and a dozen Democratic defectors in the Senate dealt a defeat to President Barack Obama Wednesday, just days after he pressed Congress to renew pieces of last year's economic stimulus bill.

Wednesday's defeat of the measure was unexpectedly lopsided as Democratic moderates — who almost uniformly voted for an earlier version just three months ago — joined with every Republican against the pending version on a 45-52 tally.

+ + +
Apparently, a lot of "moderate" Democratic Senators also hate the unemployed.

Posted by: Doug on June 16, 2010 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

Will Hatch drug test the bank CEO's who destroyed the economy? Will he test Bush - who allowed the ruination? Will he test Cheney - for obvious reasons?


PS: God hates the GOP. That is why they act the way they do.

Posted by: Tom on June 16, 2010 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK

It's common to hate what you fear. That's what makes so many people uncomfortable around sickness. And that's what makes so many people uncomfortable around the poor -- the "there, but for the grace of God, go I" aspect. At least, with the sick, they're not gonna actively come and take your health away. With the poor, OTOH, one might be reminded of the French Revolution, the Russian Revolution, the Chinese Revolution, Cuba... And I don't think that most Americans are aware that a similar revolution isn't likely to happen here, unless things get much, much worse. It's those who have no hope left, who are likely to grab the pitchforks, not those who hope they can change things via the ballot box.

Posted by: exlibra on June 16, 2010 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK

Here's an idea, have all unemployed send a vial of
urine to the senators office. with 15mil unemployed
we could flood DC with the nasty yellow stuff.

Posted by: mike mccormick on June 16, 2010 at 5:14 PM | PERMALINK

I'm ready to demand a drug test of anyone who admits to being Republican. It should be repeated prior to letting them speak to the media and before any Republican politician is allowed to vote.

There has to be an explanation of that level of nastiness, paranoia and insanity. Meth use comes to mind.

Posted by: Rick B on June 16, 2010 at 7:13 PM | PERMALINK

exlibra, you nailed it. The Republicans hate what they fear.

However, the usual pattern for a violent revolution is not one that the hopeless bring about. It is a revolution that occurs after the previously hopeless are given hope. Only then is there enough social energy to sustain a violent revolution.

I assume here, of course, that you mean a violent revolution of the kind recommended by Sharon Angle from Nevada. You can't mean the non-violent kind of revolution that the American conservatives have been inflicting on America since the idiots let the senile Reagan take office in 1981.

That latter has been a coup effort by the extremely wealthy conservatives. Check out who funds the conservative think tanks like Heritage foundation and the Discovery Instituted if you want a list.

Erik Prince is an example of that group. You will notice that since Obama has been elected he is trying to sell Xe (Blackwater) and is rumored to be planning to move to the UAE - outside reach of American subpoenas. Apparently he does not think the three decade conservative American coup is going all that well, so he wants to move somewhere that will accept him for his inherited wealth. A UAE princedom seems like a reasonable fit.

I have no doubt that group of conservative wealthy coup plotters fears those they have made unemployed. They fear the failure of the class warfare they have been conducting for the last few decades. Think the Wall Street bankers might also be in on the fear of the unemployed? They should.

Posted by: Rick B on June 16, 2010 at 7:45 PM | PERMALINK

"Let's introduce monthly drug tests for all Congressmen and Congressional staffers, too."

Do we have a test for seething, caustic hatred?
That's the only drug these guys need... most of the time.

Posted by: Ethan on June 16, 2010 at 10:49 PM | PERMALINK

So this is where you libs hide out? I've never seen such a pack of whiners line up & complain that someone else isn't going to give their hard earned cash to druggies on a single site, ever! Feel free to hand out your own $$$ to help the poor and down-trodden, but... oh, wait. You guys are only ever generous with other people's money. Republicans have always been more charitable with their money than you Demo-rats. You think just because we don't want to watch a dollar go into the government's pot to help these people & see only .$18 actually get where it needs to go that we have no compassion. Let me tell you losers... Compassion and Generosity with other people's money is NEITHER!

Posted by: Ron R. on June 17, 2010 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

The comments on this website are astonishing. This amendment is not about hate. It is not about interfering in the personal lives of citizens. It is not about fearing what is unknown. It is not about demonizing the unemployed or those who have had misfortune.

Fact of the matter is that unemployment costs taxpayers a great deal of money. That social program is meant to provide a temporary income to those who have lost their jobs because of layoffs, poor economic conditions or circumstances beyond their personal control. It is meant to provide necessities to those people who are currently without productive employment.not luxuries or recreational provisions.

As a taxpayer, I support such a program that is aimed at helping people get back on their feet. I want my charitable monies to go to those who are making an effort to be a productive and contributing citizen. I don't see how drugs (including alcohol) contribute to an individual's efforts to find employment they fall in the recreational/luxury category.

I am happy to lend a hand to those who need it and are willing to make their best efforts to better their situation. I am a firm believer in helping other people, and by helping people I do not mean fostering dependency, I mean helping those who are in a situation where they cannot but are willing to help themselves.

Posted by: Libb Earl Clouns on June 17, 2010 at 4:42 PM | PERMALINK

Excuse me, but UI recipients pay into it, so shifting the goalposts in the name of temperance is breaking the deal. Secondly, you Republicans are very funny. First you say, "We can't have government programmes because a tyrannical government will use it as leverage to control every minor aspect of people's lives". Then, when they take power, they proudly announce plans to use government programmes as leverage to control every minor aspect of people's lives. In this way, they admit to being tyrants.

Posted by: R on June 17, 2010 at 5:40 PM | PERMALINK

Mr. Libb. It has been government policy over the last 30 years to guarantee an army of unemployed to keep wages down. Look up NAIRU if you want more details on that. Moreover, this tendency has become much worse during this particular economic crisis. There are insufficient jobs to go around. Right now there's an attempt once again to blame the unemployed for that fact, a highly unfair plan, but one that puts the onus away from failed economists and the tyrannical financial sector and failed governments with their failed right wing policy prescriptions and onto the victims of these failures.

Posted by: R on June 17, 2010 at 5:43 PM | PERMALINK

First, I never said that we cannot have government programs. Many are needed and have great social benefits. What I don't like is the fact that for each dollar that goes into these social programs, only pennies actually make it to the intended recipients. Lets leave left & right and republicans and democrats out of this argument, for both are guilty of the inefficiency which I am addressing. This is about powers-at-be from numerous political alignments serving someone other than their constituents. Other people's money is handled with far less discretion than what it would be if it came from the wallet of the politician (assuming they earned it!)
Second, I am not sure what you mean by "blame the unemployment for that fact". There are a lack of jobs because an enormous amount of wealth has been erased in the last few years and businesses are reluctant to take on the risk required to expand and create those jobs. Blame whoever you would like for the current mess, for you could point your finger at Wall Street, government, rating agencies, lenders, borrowers.....and be correct on every account.

Posted by: Libb Earl Clouns on June 20, 2010 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK

P.S. R: UI recipients do pay into the program, but it is kind of like insurance. Most people who draw unemployment (especially those who do it regularly) don't pay in as much in premiums (deductions) as what they receive. Hence, when continuing claims escalate and benefits are extended, cashflow out exceeds cashflow in and another deficit is created......or in this case enlarged. Who is going to pay for this deficit?----->TAXPAYER

Posted by: Libb Earl Clouns on June 20, 2010 at 4:20 PM | PERMALINK



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