Last month, 2012 GOP presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich called for drug-testing recipients of federal aid. “Unemployment compensation, food stamps, you name it,” he said.
And Gingrich now has a kindred spirit in the GOP race when it comes to drug-testing those who need to access federal programs and the social safety net — Texas Gov. Rick Perry:
“I don’t have a problem with before you get any dollars from the federal government that you’re drug tested,” Perry said in response to a man who suggested the idea in a question to him at a meet-and-greet in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, that drew over 80 people. Perry pointed out that as a pilot in the Air Force, he himself had been drug tested. “I don’t have a problem in the world with that,” he said.
As ThinkProgress’ Justice Ian Millhiser has noted, this sort of policy “would likely run headlong into the Constitution,” as it constitutes a “suspicion-less search,” nevermind the fact that drug testing requirements cost more money than they save and welfare recipients actually use drugs less than other groups. Even 2012 GOP candidate Rick Santorum, a big fan of rabid right-wing causes, wouldn’t endorse federal drug-testing for benefits.
Republicans in several states, however, have embraced testing those who need benefits, as have House Republicans at the federal level. In Georgia, one Democratic lawmaker responded to his Republican colleagues’ desire to test beneficiaries by introducing a bill to drug-test lawmakers.