Republicans still just don’t like the unemployed

REPUBLICANS STILL JUST DON’T LIKE THE UNEMPLOYED…. That Republican officials seem to actively dislike unemployed Americans isn’t exactly new. We’re talking about a party that’s waged war against jobless benefits and tried to kill jobs bills during a recession — which should tell the public quite a bit about the GOP’s priorities.

But it’s striking to me just how far some Republicans will take this almost-personal animosity towards those who’ve lost their jobs.

South Carolina’s more than 236,000 unemployed workers could have to take a drug test in order to receive jobless benefits, according to a proposal by Republican gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley on Tuesday. […]

Though employees fired for using drugs, alcohol or missing work can be disqualified from jobless benefits, Haley said testing the unemployed was one of several steps in ensuring the newly restructured Department of Employment and Workforce — now a cabinet agency — only pays benefits to those who have earned them.

“We will make sure, above all, that there will be no … benefits if they do not pass a drug test,” Haley said.

If this sounds familiar, note that Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) pushed a similar measure at the federal level in June, which would have required anyone applying for jobless benefits to pass a drug test.

Even Senate Republicans found the idea distasteful, and Hatch’s measure went nowhere. But four months later, Nikki Haley’s gubernatorial campaign is nevertheless running with it.

The idea is so absurd, it’s hard to know where to start. Is it legal to force the unemployed to take a government-mandated drug test in order to qualify for benefits to which they’re entitled? Who would pay for the administering of these hundreds of thousands of drug tests in South Carolina? Is this Haley’s idea of “limited government”?

But perhaps most important is the offensive underlying assumptions. At its core, Haley, Hatch, and those who agree with this are making a truly ridiculous assumption: those who’ve lost their jobs during tough economic times should necessarily be suspected of drug abuse. It doesn’t matter if getting laid off wasn’t your fault; it doesn’t matter if there are no job openings in your area; it doesn’t matter if you’ve never taken drugs a day in your life.

If you can’t find work, it may very well be your fault — because you might be some kind of addict. What do Haley, Hatch, and their cohorts base this suspicions on? Nothing but a twisted worldview.

If every American who’s had to rely on jobless benefits since the start of the recession was poised to vote in November, the GOP would be in a bit of panic right now.