Tom Cotton, the Republican challenger to Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor (D), called food stamp recipients “addicts” according to audio sent to the Huffington Post from a July 8 tele-town hall meeting.
While defending his vote earlier this year against an agriculture spending bill that expanded federal crop insurance and trimmed the food stamp program, Cotton said,
“I don’t think that we should be using farmers as a way to pack more welfare spending into Barack Obama’s government. Nor should we have a food stamp program that isn’t reformed, that doesn’t have job training and work requirements, that doesn’t have drug testing requirements, so we can get people who are addicted the help they need. Or make sure that long-term addicts or recidivists are not abusing taxpayer dollars.”
Republicans love to claim that those receiving government assistance, whether it be welfare or food stamps, are drug addicts. Several states, like Utah and Arizona, require drug tests for their recipients. However, from July 2012 when the law was enacted to Aug. 2013, Utah spent $30,000 on screening welfare recipients and had just 12 positive tests.
Arizona, which claimed that their drug testing program would save the state an estimated $1.7 million benefits spending, screened around 87,000 recipients between 2009 and 2012 and turned up only a single positive test. Total amount in benefits saved? $560
Late last year, Florida had its drug testing law struck down by federal courts after it was determined it had cost the state over $45,000 in just the four months that it was in effect. Less than three percent of all tests came back positive.
The GOP barks that the “takers” using government assistance programs are wasting taxpayers’ hard-earned money. What they should be concerned about are their own reckless ideas, which actually do cost states tens of thousands of dollars with no actual benefits to their residents.