The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Opinion

September 25, 2013

Offensive suggestion: Bill would add drug testing to food stamp recipients

If House Republicans had their way, the 47 million Americans now having to sustain themselves on food stamps first would have to pass a drug test to get them.

That’s part of a House-passed measure that slices $4 billion a year from a program that is providing assistance to 1 in 7 Americans.

The Republican-controlled House passed the measure, even though 15 of their members voted against it.

We certainly agree there are scofflaws who abuse the system. But the vast majority of food-stamp recipients need the help. Their ranks swelled during the Great Recession, as one would expect.

In addition to the drug testing, the House bill would impose new work requirements, a suggestion most people eligible for food stamps now are loafs milking — no pun intended — the system while sitting on their couches in their government-subsidized house.

The reality is food stamps help struggling — most of whom have jobs — Americans put food on the table as they work to improve their lives.

And they’re not free. Beginning in the 1960s, food stamps were sold to low-income people at a discount. Coupons recipients were presented at the check-out counter, and a receipt for the transaction was given. No cash was involved.

The food stamp program provides essential support to people in need. Providing that support is the morally correct thing to do. And being told a drug test is necessary to get them is beyond offensive.

This bill has little chance of getting past the Senate. That’s good.

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