Tillis backs off controversial welfare comments

Posted October 12, 2011

— House Speaker Thom Tillis on Wednesday stepped back from comments he made last week favoring drug testing for people who receive public assistance.

Tillis made the comments Friday in Madison County, saying he would push to drug test people who get public aid if Republicans remain in power after the 2012 elections. He also agreed with a town hall participant's statement that drug testing be expanded to state employees.

The recorded comments were uploaded to YouTube and drew sharp criticism this week.

Tillis wasn't asked about the issue in a town hall meeting in Montgomery County on Wednesday, but afterward, he seems to take more of a wait-and-see approach on drug testing.

"I don't know if it's a good or bad idea," he said. "I think you go look at what the state of Florida and other states have done and see whether or not it's produced a benefit or more cost and make a decision based on that."

He also proposed a "divide and conquer" approach to entitlements in his Madison County appearance, saying disabled people should "look down at" unwed mothers and others who receive aid.

House Speaker Thom Tillis Tillis: Entitlement comments taken out of context

"What I was trying to say there, and maybe it was a poor word choice, is that we need to divide and look at everybody who's receiving government support and separate those from people who had no choice in the matter whatsoever," he said Wednesday.

Democratic activist Gerrick Brenner, who has been to a lot of Tillis' town hall meetings across the state in recent weeks, said he isn't surprised by the Mecklenburg County Republican's back-tracking.

"He's backing down from some pretty crass language that he really only feels comfortable voicing in front of his true believers," Brenner said. "In front of mainstream voters who have some common sense, he's a little uncomfortable about that."


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  • griper1 Oct 13, 2011

    If the savings from the testing pay for the program..go for it..

  • nobama Oct 13, 2011

    This could really save the state a lot of money. Think of all the good we could do with the extra money. We could increase the money that is given to the truely needy. I don't want my hard earned tax dollars being used to by illegal drugs.

  • soyousay Oct 13, 2011

    dear fap..how you got from here to there is puzzling, but even so, the contention of the fringe is that everyone receiving tax dollars should line up to do their duty in cup...if will be an awfully long line

  • BIlzac Oct 13, 2011

    I guess it depends on your source, as to what the Florida numbers actually are.

    I did manage to find a single site that quotes the 1600'ish number of "refuse to test" welfare recipients, though the report mentions that refusal to test simply means they never got one done. You would expect that they refused because they feared a positive test, but in Florida the welfare recipients must pay the $25-30 fee for the test up front, so some could have presumably not had the test done due to lack of ability to pay.

    What has not been mentioned (I think) is that Florida is also having to defend itself in a lawsuit over this program. A similar suit in Michigan resulted in litigation that extended several years and eventually shut their program down.

    All of this is based on the premise that welfare recipients are MORE likely to be habitual drug users, and unfortunately that premise is not supported by statistics.

  • SARCASTICLES Oct 13, 2011

    Don't be so harsh on Tillis.....after all, he's just solved the nation's problem with high energy costs. If they could figure out a way to hook up a generator to the spin he came up with to say what "he really meant by that", it would provide enough electricity to power every home and industry in the whole dang country. ;)

  • fuzzmom Oct 13, 2011

    Wow, being married is a choice? Last I heard you couldn't marry yourself. This from someone who probably doesn't agree with abortions. Never mind, not all pregnancies are planned. So, you can choose to be unmarried, you can't choose whether or not you complete a pregnancy, but you can choose to be unmarried and pregnant??? You can't have it both ways.

  • YippiYiyoKiYay Oct 13, 2011

    @ wisabear70: You take everything out of context. Enough. Good luck to you. Goodbye.

  • corgimom06 Oct 13, 2011

    And Tillis should be tested as well. Too bad there isn't a test top measure how idiotic he can be

  • bill0 Oct 13, 2011

    I'm completely against people sitting around and doing nothing while collecting a government check. All I ask is for the do-nothing congress to be held to the same level of accountability that they propose for do-nothing welfare recipients.

  • nighttrain2010 Oct 13, 2011

    >>House Speaker Thom Tillis on Wednesday stepped back from comments he made last week favoring drug testing for people who receive public assistance.

    Well there's really a simple answer to all of this and would forward the cause of liberty quite efficiently. End welfare and wealth redistribution. Quit taking property from one group and giving it to another. That's theft.

    Secondly, end the ridiculous war on (some) drugs. This is 'war' that has only existed for the past 60-70 years and it's quite clear it's not working