Many conservatives have spent an unnecessary amount of time and effort pushing for legislation that will require welfare recipients to endure degrading drug tests before they are allowed to receive any aid. Tennessee recently passed that bill, and now their Republican lawmakers have to face the facts that most of the individuals who rely on welfare are actually drug free. It seems these people are just trying to get a little assistance so they can meet their needs and the needs of their families.
The state of Tennessee began enforcing this law in the in middle of 2014. Since then, 31,121 people have applied for Families First benefits, and only 65 of those individuals tested positive for narcotics. Only 609 people were even asked to submit a urine sample, because the results of the rest of the applicants’ drug use questionnaires did not require them to take a drug test. This means that just 10.7% of those who were forced to take the test, and only 1.6% of the entire population of welfare recipients, were using drugs.
Tennessee has wasted $23,592 tax payer dollars, and is now on its second year of trying to prove that welfare recipients are drug users, but its own testing system has shown that just .2% of welfare applicants fail the drug test. If Tennessee Republicans want to disagree with those results, they can only blame themselves. These numbers are based on their trust in the two-layered testing system that they created. Instead of offering a helping hand to those in need, Tennessee has wasted nearly $24,000 when the benefits only amount to about $165 per month.
However, Tennessee is not the only state who refuses to learn from their mistakes. Seven other Republican states are also getting these same results. According to Think Progress, Tennessee has run 16,017 drug tests and only thirty-seven were positive. Arizona checked 142,424 people, but only three of those tests came back positive. Mississippi screened 3,656 individuals, and they were only able to find two positive drug tests. Similar results were found in the other conservative states as well. Collectively, conservatives have wasted hundreds of thousands of dollars on this futile quest, but still they continue their fight.
The Republican party’s war on the disenfranchised stems from the “Entitlement Nation” myth, and it is a perfect example of what the future holds when politicians take what they see on Fox News and turn it into legislation without stopping to investigate any of it or consider the outcome. Instead of continuing their war, perhaps they should spend more of their time repairing the state economies that were forced to suffer because of their false beliefs about welfare recipients and their belief that tax cuts for the wealthy will boost economic growth and development.