Almost five months to the day that Rep. Trey Radel (R-FL) was arrested for purchasing cocaine from a federal agent, he joined House Republicans in voting for a provision of the Farm Bill that would have drug-tested recipients of food stamps.
The congressman’s arrest shows us that this vote may not have been about policy. Perhaps it was a cry for help.
With the stated goal of reducing fraud and saving taxpayers money, eight states have instituted drug screening to determine eligibility for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). In Utah, Arizona, and Florida, the programs ended up costing more than they saved, all while scarring recipients with a presumption of guilt.
Despite the evidence that such programs are both wasteful and a possible violation of the Fourth Amendment, House Republicans joined the nearly three-dozen states that proposed testing recipients of public assistance for illegal narcotics. What were they trying to tell us?
Maybe chemical dependency is fueling the GOP’s fixation on repealing Obamacare, its lax work schedule, its willingness to shut down the government if they don’t get their way.
Testing welfare or food stamp recipients will have no serious benefit for taxpayers, but shouldn’t we know if our representatives who helped turn a record surplus into a record deficit as millions of Americans are out of work may not be deserving of a paycheck?
Why would they resist such a common-sense approach to keeping big government under control? Do they want to pay higher taxes to finance the depraved indulgences of those suckling off the government teat?
The state legislature of Florida, where Radel is from, passed legislation to drug-test all state employees in 2012 — except themselves. They even turned down an offer of free drug tests from our Carl Hiaasen.
Why would powerful people reject this completely responsible use of government funds?
Could it be that they use illegal drugs at the same rate as the rest of the country? Could it be that the suggestion of drug use is beneath them, since their salary from taxpayers will soon be tripled or quadrupled by lobbying firms? Maybe the fear of being branded an illegal drug user is more powerful than their “principles?” Who would want to live with that threat lingering over their every choice?