Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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October 7, 2010

REPUBLICANS STILL JUST DON'T LIKE THE UNEMPLOYED.... That Republican officials seem to actively dislike unemployed Americans isn't exactly new. We're talking about a party that's waged war against jobless benefits and tried to kill jobs bills during a recession -- which should tell the public quite a bit about the GOP's priorities.

But it's striking to me just how far some Republicans will take this almost-personal animosity towards those who've lost their jobs.

South Carolina's more than 236,000 unemployed workers could have to take a drug test in order to receive jobless benefits, according to a proposal by Republican gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley on Tuesday. [...]

Though employees fired for using drugs, alcohol or missing work can be disqualified from jobless benefits, Haley said testing the unemployed was one of several steps in ensuring the newly restructured Department of Employment and Workforce -- now a cabinet agency -- only pays benefits to those who have earned them.

"We will make sure, above all, that there will be no ... benefits if they do not pass a drug test," Haley said.

If this sounds familiar, note that Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) pushed a similar measure at the federal level in June, which would have required anyone applying for jobless benefits to pass a drug test.

Even Senate Republicans found the idea distasteful, and Hatch's measure went nowhere. But four months later, Nikki Haley's gubernatorial campaign is nevertheless running with it.

The idea is so absurd, it's hard to know where to start. Is it legal to force the unemployed to take a government-mandated drug test in order to qualify for benefits to which they're entitled? Who would pay for the administering of these hundreds of thousands of drug tests in South Carolina? Is this Haley's idea of "limited government"?

But perhaps most important is the offensive underlying assumptions. At its core, Haley, Hatch, and those who agree with this are making a truly ridiculous assumption: those who've lost their jobs during tough economic times should necessarily be suspected of drug abuse. It doesn't matter if getting laid off wasn't your fault; it doesn't matter if there are no job openings in your area; it doesn't matter if you've never taken drugs a day in your life.

If you can't find work, it may very well be your fault -- because you might be some kind of addict. What do Haley, Hatch, and their cohorts base this suspicions on? Nothing but a twisted worldview.

If every American who's had to rely on jobless benefits since the start of the recession was poised to vote in November, the GOP would be in a bit of panic right now.

Steve Benen 8:30 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (32)

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Who would pay for the administering of these hundreds of thousands of drug tests in South Carolina? Is this Haley's idea of "limited government"?

It's okay, you don't have to answer questions if you are a Republican.

Posted by: koreyel on October 7, 2010 at 8:33 AM | PERMALINK

Awesome. The GOP is trying to criminalize the unemployed. This is probably fine w/their black-hearted base.

Posted by: Bat of Moon on October 7, 2010 at 8:35 AM | PERMALINK

I thought it was if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear .
This if memory serves was the cry of courage from the battle tested republican four f club .
If you are really innocent the Lion won't eat you , and the electric prod with the nifty Star Trek spin won't even hurt .
Not even one little bit , Promise !

Posted by: FRP on October 7, 2010 at 8:43 AM | PERMALINK

This would be perfectly fine if everyone who gets government money has to take a drug test.

Starting with state and federal contractors, especially defense contractors.

Then everyone who gets a federal subsidy, starting with oil companies and giant agribusiness.

And don't forget all the banks that got TARP money.

And everyone who takes tax deductions - which means everyone with children and everyone who owns a home.

And that's just the tip of the welfare-for-the-rich iceberg.

After all the rich parasites have pissed in a cup - preferably in public ceremonies videotaped for later broadcast - THEN you can start testing the unemployed.

Posted by: Yellow Dog on October 7, 2010 at 8:45 AM | PERMALINK

THE ONLY people who benefit from this are the drug testing companies. IT costs the state an extra $3 million a year, state unemployment agencies countless hours in organizing the material and lawsuits from false positives, not to mention the time wasted by the unemployed having to drive to hole in the wall lab sit with sick people and get their blood drawn.

Jan Brewer, Arizona's callus Governor, discontinued their state lab in the southern part of the state and it has cost the city and county plenty in wasted time for patients, procurement of services, organization of results, etc. Turns out to have been cheaper when the state did it.

Posted by: KurtRex1453 on October 7, 2010 at 8:53 AM | PERMALINK

The message is that if you choose to be a drug addict, you at least have to use drugs that produce free market profits for innocent investors. Being addicted to oxicontin won't be a disqualifier. We can call that the Rush loophole.

Posted by: Danp on October 7, 2010 at 9:05 AM | PERMALINK

"The idea is so absurd, it's hard to know where to start."

Have you ever been to the South, Steve?

The US is well on its way to becoming mostly MS.

Posted by: Get real on October 7, 2010 at 9:22 AM | PERMALINK

Now that the recession - brought to us by Republican mis-government - has put so many folks on unemployment for so long, they're now welfare deadbeats. Benefits for a month or two - that's ok. Anyone can get a job in that period, no matter the larger conditions. After that, you're a lazy goodfernuthin.

These a**holes just need to hate - so much that they have to create new targets for their spite. It's pathalogical - "We hate deadbeats; let's wreck the economy! More lazy bastards to piss on. Yay!!"

Posted by: RussL on October 7, 2010 at 9:22 AM | PERMALINK

KurtRex is most definitely hit the truth of this. It's just like the way Donald Rumsfeld earned millions in stock dividends when his Defense Department ordered certain vaccinations for all military headed to the Middle East. What seemed like a reasonable request netted him tens of millions of dollars.

With Republicans there is always a hidden agenda. And it always involves making money.

Posted by: chrenson on October 7, 2010 at 9:30 AM | PERMALINK

Hate unemployed? More like wage suppression, attacking the unemployed is just the face they put on it.

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Posted by: diyidouzhi on October 7, 2010 at 9:43 AM | PERMALINK

Republicans only like rich white people that give them money. They hate and despise everyone else.

Posted by: Silver Owl on October 7, 2010 at 9:49 AM | PERMALINK

If this idea became popular the way to kill it would be for Obama to announce that anyone on unemployment would receive free drug screens, physicals and medical care so small businesses would not have to pay that considerable up front cost of hiring and have a healthy employee who was unlikely to call in sick.

Making this progressive and a true boon for small employers would make it radioactive to Rethugs.

Posted by: OKDem on October 7, 2010 at 9:49 AM | PERMALINK

Come on, don't you guys know that everyone who's on unemployment wants to be? They're all a bunch of lazy asses who don't wanna work. AND they just wanna sit around doin' drugs. That's what I did the time my job was eliminated and I took unemployment.

BTW, for Yellow Dog, when I worked for McDonnell-Douglas in the late 80s, we were subject to random drug tests.

Posted by: Lifelong Dem on October 7, 2010 at 9:55 AM | PERMALINK

Anyone who takes a home mortgage deduction has to take a drug test?

Posted by: paul on October 7, 2010 at 10:00 AM | PERMALINK

Heh, good one, paul.

KurtRex1453: "THE ONLY people who benefit from this are the drug testing companies."

And the drug test dodging industry. Maybe Nikki Haley is trying to stimulate jobs in the clean pee manufacturing sector.

Posted by: Grumpy on October 7, 2010 at 10:08 AM | PERMALINK

Read the stories in The State newspaper about Haley's personal finances. If she hadn't gotten herself elected to the SC legislature, and then gotten hired by a hospital that benefited it from one of her votes, and also gotten herself a lucrative "consulting" contract from an engineering firm (she's an accountant), she'd probably be living in a box by now. She's consistently paid her own taxes late; same with the taxes for her family's business.

She's a piece of work.

Posted by: kc on October 7, 2010 at 10:13 AM | PERMALINK

These "leaders" should be homeless.

Posted by: Trollop on October 7, 2010 at 10:29 AM | PERMALINK

I love how Republicans make the argument that Democrats are pushing for an all powerful, invasive government that strips you of your freedoms ... while at the same time not objecting to the government's warrantless eavesdropping (if it's in the name of fighting terrorism, they'll defend anything) or various proposals that would make you piss in a cup to receive unemployment benefits. Which party is invading your privacy more? I think the answer is pretty clear.

Glad I'm not unemployed and living in South Carolina (moreso the latter)

Posted by: Hypocrites on October 7, 2010 at 10:32 AM | PERMALINK

How about requiring drug tests for CEOs who want to layoff employees? After all we want to make sure they're making a rational business decision and not acting on a drug-addled whim.

Posted by: John C on October 7, 2010 at 10:33 AM | PERMALINK

The whole problem with this is the same people that said "If you're not doing anything wrong, there's nothing to worry about." when they were talking up the warrantless wiretapping of Americans will be saying the same thing about the drug testing. And they believe it. They don't think for some reason that it won't be abused by people in government, even tho it has been, yet they hate the government and say the government can't do anything right. Go figure.

Posted by: Schtick on October 7, 2010 at 10:50 AM | PERMALINK

Living in SC I can say that this is typical, I won't call it normal because there is little currently in SC that is normal. And the more astounding fact is the large number of people who would be directly affected by this that will vote for her. Well it doesn't astound those of us who have become accustomed to this level of idiocy in SC during the last 40 or so years.

Posted by: grandpajohn on October 7, 2010 at 10:56 AM | PERMALINK

Nothing like making a system more expensive to run.

Posted by: Julene on October 7, 2010 at 11:57 AM | PERMALINK

Is this article satire?

The corollary to your theme is that Democrats "hate" the employed. If we purely judged by the empirical evidence, we could certainly draw THAT conclusion.

Anyway, given that we still have about 90% of the country employed, I'll take the side that stands with the employed and those who would like to actually employ the unemployed, and that ain't Obama and Company.

Posted by: jay on October 7, 2010 at 12:07 PM | PERMALINK

Sure, right after we subject all GOP senatorial candidates to a "witch test". Because that does seem to be a growing problem.

Sure, they may DENY being a witch, but that's what a witch would do too.

(at least the eeeevvvill ones would)

Posted by: Snarki, child of Loki on October 7, 2010 at 12:25 PM | PERMALINK

The Dems love the unemployed so much they want to make us all that way.

Posted by: bandit on October 7, 2010 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

"Who would pay for the administering of these hundreds of thousands of drug tests in South Carolina?"

Easy - only people that look shiftless will have to take the test. We'll have a political officer from the Nazi Republican party make the decision.

Posted by: Marko on October 7, 2010 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

When politicians institute mandatory drug tests for athletes or unemployed or students, our response is easy and clear: "Sure. You First."

No class of Americans wants to be drug tested less than politicians.

Posted by: Quatrain Gleam on October 7, 2010 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

There is no limit to what Republican authoritarians are willing to do to prevent one undeserving person from getting something Republicans judge that they do not deserve.

Posted by: thebewilderness on October 7, 2010 at 2:21 PM | PERMALINK

The Patriot Act has garnered plenty of Dem votes. Of course if "Hypocrites" had a clue, "Hypocrites" would know that the Patriot Act largely extended the same law enforcement activities that are allowed under RICO statutes to anti-terrorism. We can argue all day whether they encroach on civil liberties (and perhaps they blur or even cross lines), but we can't deny that it passed the Senate originally 98-1 (tough to get more bipartisan than that), and was re-authorized in 2006 95-4 (including a "yea" from now President Obama). So, the characterization of this law as some kind of Republican conspiracy to intrude on our privacy is specious and an outright lie.
(BTW - margins in the House were similarly one-sided).

Posted by: jay on October 7, 2010 at 4:01 PM | PERMALINK

I strongly suspect the administrative costs including verification ( 2nd lab) as well as litigation of the results would far outstrip the cost of the unemployment benefits that might eventually be terminated as a result of a positive test. The breadth of stupidity and the lack of respect for individual freedoms is breathtaking.

Posted by: Diane Rodriguez on October 7, 2010 at 5:46 PM | PERMALINK

I love Liberals making a fiscal argument against this. Pot, meet kettle.

Posted by: Jay on October 8, 2010 at 12:30 AM | PERMALINK



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