This Congresswoman Wants to Drug-Test Rich People Who Receive Federal Tax Breaks

If Republicans insist on drug-testing those who receive federal assistance, what about those who take advantage of the IRS?

Rep. Gwen Moore
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Congresswoman Gwen Moore (D-WI) is “sick and tired of being sick and tired of the criminalization of poverty,” specifically the discriminatory attempts by some conservatives—including Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker—to require those receiving federal assistance to pass drug tests.

Now Moore, who grew up on welfare, is introducing legislation that extends drug-testing requirements to another income bracket that receives federal assistance, namely: the one percent.

“We’re not going to get rid of the federal deficit by cutting poor people off SNAP [Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program],” Moore said. “But if we are going to drug-test people to reduce the deficit, let’s start on the other end of the income spectrum.”

Moore’s proposal, called the Top 1% Accountability Act, would require wealthy taxpayers seeking itemized deductions of more than $150,000 to submit a drug test to the IRS or claim a significantly lower reduction on their taxes. Moore says she hopes the bill will “engage the wealthy in a conversation about what fair tax policy looks like.”

“The benefits we give to poor people are so limited compared to what we give to the top one percent,” Moore said. “It’s a drop in the bucket.”

Moore cited House Speaker Paul Ryan’s poverty plan, which he unveiled last week at a drug and alcohol treatment center 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 told the Guardian.

The congresswoman expanded upon her position Thursday, writing in a lengthy statement on her website, “as I’ve said time and time again, the notion that those battling poverty are somehow more susceptible to substance abuse is as absurd as it is offensive.”

Ryan isn’t the only politician in her state who equates poverty with drug abuse. As the Huffington Post reports, Gov. Walker has an extensive record conflating the two; he’s enacted legislation that requires welfare applicants to submit to testing if reasonable suspicion of drug use exists, and implemented drug tests for people seeking unemployment benefits. And last November, he sued the federal government to enable Wisconsin to drug-test food stamp applicants in the state.

“As a strong advocate for social programs aimed at combating poverty, it deeply offends me that there is such a deep stigma surrounding those who depend on government benefits,” Moore said Thursday.

“Republicans across the country continue to implement discriminatory policies that criminalize the less fortunate and perpetuate false narratives about the most vulnerable among us,” she continued. “These laws serve only one purpose: stoking the most extreme sentiments and misguided notions of the conservative movement.”

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Elizabeth Preza is the Managing Editor of AlterNet. Follow her on Twitter @lizacisms.