Republican Gov. Scott Walker Creates a Massive Welfare Bureaucracy

This article doesn’t call it that, but it should (boldface mine):

…[Walker] is hell-bent on making sure that anyone who gets food stamps in Wisconsin has to endure the humiliation of submitting to a drug test. First the Wisconsin legislature sent him a bill providing that the state could test food stamp recipients if it had a reasonable suspicion they were on drugs; he used his line-item veto to strike the words “reasonable suspicion,” so the state could test any (or all) recipients it wanted. And now, because federal law doesn’t actually allow drug testing for food stamp recipients, Walker is suing the federal government on the grounds that food stamps are “welfare,” and welfare recipients can be tested….

First, some context. The drug testing programs for welfare recipients are usually justified by saying they’ll save money by rooting out all the junkies on the dole, but in practice they’ve been almost comically ineffective. In state after state, testing programs have found that welfare recipients use drugs at lower rates than the general population, finding only a tiny number of welfare recipients who test positive.

But this hasn’t discouraged politicians like Walker, any more than the abysmal failure of abstinence-only sex education discourages them from continuing to advocate it. The test is the point, not the result. Walker isn’t trying to solve a practical problem here. He wants to test food stamp recipients as a way of expressing moral condemnation. You can get this benefit, he’s saying, but we want to give you a little humiliation so you know that because you sought the government’s help, we think you’re a rotten person.

When ersatz policy maven and failed Republican vice-presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan proposed something similar, a “customized life plan” with a personalized contract with benchmarks and timelines, we commented:

Essentially, what Paul Ryan wants to do is create a government bureaucracy to monitor these ‘contracts’ (or, maybe monitor the Social Contract?). Conservatives have spent the last forty years railing against this very thing. Of course, people will disagree about whether they hit these ‘benchmarks’, so we’ll need to hire people to adjudicate that process. More ‘big government.’ It also opens people up to the predations and whims of ‘petty government bureaucrats.’ Maybe some will be lenient and kind, others might not. Seems like there are plenty of opportunities for abusing and preying on the needy–which already happens.

When you look at the two of the most successful anti-poverty programs, Social Security and SNAP, they don’t involve a lot of monitoring (SNAP does have some limits on what can be bought). They just disburse money to those who need it. Ryan’s plan isn’t liberalism, it’s liberalism as designed by a fucking moron who hasn’t been paying attention for the last three decades.

Of course, there is an upside to this:

Leaving ideology and philosophy of governing aside, these are stupid, cumbersome, and expensive add-ons. The confusion and delays these add-ons cause won’t help the delivery of services. If the primary goal were truly to help people, no one in his right would build programs like this. On the other hand, if one were trying to limit access by undesirables to these programs without explicitly doing so, this is exactly how one would design such a system.

These monitoring systems also offer opportunities for privatization contracts.

Never mind. Mission accomplished.

In a sane political system, these bozos would not be taken seriously.

And the congregation responds: This is yet another reason why we can’t have nice things.

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3 Responses to Republican Gov. Scott Walker Creates a Massive Welfare Bureaucracy

  1. Andrew G. says:

    While I don’t approve of drug testing, there are serious issues with the claim that drug use in welfare recipients is “only a tiny number”; see for example

    Drug Testing Welfare Users Is A Sham, But Not For The Reasons You Think

  2. David Taylor, MD says:

    Andrew: even assuming that the statistics and the interpretations of them in the article you cite are valid, it is still not clear why SNAP assistance should be linked to drug testing? Why not require drug testing of everyone who is convicted of DUI? Or exceeding the speed limit? Or even just having a driver’s license, all of which seem to place the public at risk. The assumption that such requirements for public assistance are simply punitive and stigmatizing is probably true.

  3. mrtoads says:

    The basic point is simple – any reason advanced by any Republican for any policy is almost certainly a lie. There are only two reasons for any Republican plan – it will enrich somebody powerful, or it will hurt somebody powerless. Actually, there is often a third reason – it will (at least in Republican imaginations) enrage ‘The Left’, but this is simply the frosting on the GOP cake.

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