GOP Wants Mandatory Drug Testing For Unemployed

Rep. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.) suggested on the floor of the House of Representatives this week that bad decision making involving drugs is leaving people without jobs.

According to Reed:

“I have been back in my district, and we do town halls all the time … And what I’ve heard from small business owners across our district is that one of the main reasons that they cannot hire individuals is because they simply cannot pass a drug test.”

2011 has been marred by Republican lawmakers suggesting unemployed people are taking advantage of unemployment checks while indulging in recreational drug use. Lawmakers earlier in the year attempted to pass several jobless drug testing bills, all of which were met with public outrage and resistance from Democrats.

The largest problem faced by Republican lawmakers is a federal law that doesn’t allow states to deny unemployment benefits based on reasons not related to the circumstances of a former employee’s unemployment. It should be noted that 20 states do deny unemployment benefits if a drug-related firing has occurred.

On Tuesday Republicans in the House of Representatives passed a bill that gives states permission to drug test if they want, in the meantime Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has called the bill ridiculous.

While House Republicans have constantly stated that a large portion of the $160 billion spent on unemployment insurance in 2010 went to undeserving people they have provided zero percent proof to back up their claims.

The biggest republican soundbite? It’s something they just “hear about all the time” back in their districts. In fact Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.) recently told an interviewer that he would hold a hearing on the topic to gather more information.

“I think we do need to get more data. That’s why I think letting the states make this decision isn’t imposing a set of requirements on them. They’ll be able to examine their own policies, and it’s going to be different in every state,” Camp said.

“What you don’t want to do is have somebody get to the final stages of applying for a job and then fail a drug test and then be denied their ability to work,” Camp continued. “So it’s really about making sure people are ready both for skill sets and available for the jobs that may come up. And states will be able to decide how to address that, whether it’s a screening, whether it’s assistance.”

In actuality a recent study has proven that less than 1 percent of local employer hires test positive for drug use.

The Republican attack on the unemployed has been classified by some groups as class warfare.

In the meantime the idea of drug testing isn’t without it’s merits if placed in the hands of employers. For instance many employers want to ensure that their workers do not injure other workers, themselves and customers which could lead to costly lawsuits.

In support of the Republican attack on the unemployed Dan Porter, director of Chemung Schuyler Steuben Workforce New York, a job training nonprofit recently launched a campaign called “Think Again, Quit to Get Hired” in which his agency claims that nearly 50 percent of area workers fail pre-employment drug testing. It should be noted that Porter’s “study” only involved a very narrow set of employees.

In the meantime a government study titled the National Survey on Drug Use and Health for 2010 found that unemployed people were twice as likely to use drugs than full-time job holders. According to the study employed people use drugs 8.4% of the time while the unemployed use drugs 17.5% of the time.

Do you think the rights attack on the unemployed is yet another sign of the GOP’s attack on the lower class or a sensible way to control drug using unemployment benefit recipients.