In response to Republican lawmakers' attempts to drug test welfare recipients, Democratic Rep. Gwen Moore of Wisconsin proposed legislation that would drug test the highest income earners who seek large tax deductions.
Moore unveiled the Top One Percent Accountability Act on June 16. The legislation would mandate that taxpayers who seek itemized deductions of $150,000 and more to consent to a drug test delivered to the Internal Revenue Service, The Guardian reports.
The only U.S. households that qualify for the $150,000 deduction make an average of $1 million or more per year. Moore said her bill was in response to the plan presented by the House Speaker Republican Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, called “A Better Way.”
Ryan has been slammed before for his comments about the poor, previously suggesting Americans who use welfare benefits do not seek work and rely on drugs, ThinkProgress reports.
The House speaker had previously said that African-American men are “not even thinking about working or learning the value and the culture of work.”
Ryan has since apologized for his remarks and vowed to take a compassionate stance towards those living in poverty, but his new plan would enable states to further reduce welfare benefits with stricter requirements. He pointedly unveiled the plan before a drug rehab center in a predominately black neighborhood in Washington, D.C.
“When he stood in front of a drug treatment center and rolled out his anti-poverty initiative, pushing this narrative that poor people are drug addicts, that was the last straw,” Moore said.
The Wisconsin congresswoman stated that states removing people off of benefits, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families has not been effective in reducing the federal deficit.
“But if were are going to drug test people to reduce the deficit, let’s start on the other end of the income spectrum,” Moore said.
She added that Americans who make $1 million a year actually take more money out of the federal budget by getting large tax deductions. Taking drug testing welfare recipients to its logical conclusion, she believes that holding those with the highest income to the same standard is only fair.
“The benefits we give to poor people are so limited to what we give to the top 1 percent,” Moore said. “It’s a drop in the bucket ... We spend $81 billion on everything -- everything -- that you could consider a poverty program.”
Moore added: “We might really save money by drug testing folks on Wall Street, who might have a little cocaine before they get their deal done.”
Moore is a representative of Wisconsin, whose Republican Gov. Scott Walker has been among the most aggressive figures in the country when it comes to making it harder for residents to receive welfare benefits.
Walker has shepherded policies that require TANF recipients and unemployment beneficiaries to be tested for drug use. He is currently suing the federal government to allow him to require SNAP recipients to also be drug tested.
“For us, it’s not a punitive thing, it’s a progressive thing,” Walker told The Huffington Post in September 2015. “We’re trying to help people who are in need of our assistance to get jobs ... [to] make sure they are drug free if they have an addiction, to get back in the workforce.”