Wisconsin drug-testing plan shows why we can’t afford a Republican governor


The evidence says Scott Walker costing Wisconsin a large pile of wasted loot. But at least the governor can look like a hero to the aging white men who form his base. Gage Skidmore

Wisconsin’s Scott Walker must spend most of his time at Republican governors conferences playing pin the horns on the feminist at the Christian Broadcasters hospitality suite. Otherwise he’d know better.

It’s an article of faith among conservatives that those receiving public assistance are drug-doing lay-abouts. To ensure said leeches aren’t mooching off the state dole, Walker plans to make Wisconsin the first state to drug-test Medicaid recipients.

Medicaid serves as the health insurer of last resort for low-income families, pregnant women, the elderly and people with disabilities. By screening them for dope, Walkers believes he’ll save the state $49 million.

Only he won’t. Fifteen states have already spent millions of dollars hoping to capture the elusive drug-addled welfare mooch. Each has come up empty. Which Walker could have discovered with a five-minute Google search.

Tests have been used for eligibility on everything from food stamps to family assistance. So far, Utah has proven the most successful at screening out drug users, though at a breathtakingly low rate of just 2 percent. Others, like Arkansas, have registered under 1 percent.

Compare this to the general population, which has an estimated use rate of about 10 percent, and it becomes a fool’s errand of raising an army to go squirrel hunting.

The problem, of course, is the supposition. In Wisconsin, a family must earn $16,000 or less to be Medicaid-eligible. After paying heat, rent and the Aldi bill, the math becomes problematic for establishing an ongoing relationship with the neighborhood dealer. Moreover, the elderly and the paraplegic don’t make for high-probability drug targets.

Then again, there’s a good chance Walker already knows his state will lose money on the hunt. But wasted money for Wisconsin will nonetheless prove quite profitable for one Scott Walker.

He’s seeking his third term in a year when an anti-Trump backlash is expected. The traditional GOP coalition of rural whites and the wealthy is flailing. Suburban women are bolting in droves. So Walker must solidify the Republican base of aging white men. And nothing quite propels them to vote like a shared sense of victimhood, the idea that women with five kids by four different fathers are wolfing blunts all day, courtesy of their steadfast labor.

Testing allows Walker to pretend he’s riding to the rescue, the brave pol halting this insidious violation of hearth and home. Variations of the scam have already worked in 15 states. And as the race heats up to replace Gov. Mark Dayton, you can expect it to be coming to Minnesota this fall.

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