A favorite Republican pastime recently has been to demonize the unemployed by proposing that they submit to drug tests before collecting their unemployment insurance. Both at the federal and state level, Republicans have pushed for such a policy, even though, as it turns out, such requirements save barely any money and only prove that those on unemployment insurance are less likely than the public at large to be using drugs.
One Iowa Republican this week decided that such measures are not enough. During debate over Iowa’s budget, state Sen. Mark Chelgren (R) proposed that people who receive child support payments also be forced to submit to drug tests on the whims of the person making the payments:
The proposal came from Sen. Mark Chelgren, R-Ottumwa who said he was pushing the idea on behalf of an unidentified constituent who believed his ex was using child support money for illegal drugs.
A person paying child support under Chelgren’s proposal could require the recipient to a drug test every six months as long as they pay the costs.
“We shouldn’t be ducking our head and running away every time there’s a difficult issue coming up,” Chelgren said. However, following open laughter in the Iowa Senate chamber, Chelgren withdrew his amendment.
The Iowa Senate’s next task will be debating yet another Chelgren amendment. This one goes back to the standard Republican aim of forcing those collecting from state welfare programs to undergo drug tests. In Indiana, just 1 percent of those tested before collecting unemployment insurance or entering the state’s job training program during the final six months of 2011 failed their drug tests.