It didn’t make it into the flurry of news coverage on Friday, but when the latest batch of internal documents was released from the Clinton White House, a particularly curious line of poll questioning stood out.
In 1998, the Clinton administration poll tested the idea of making college students pee in cups to prove they’re not on drugs in order to qualify for financial aid, according to papers released by the Clinton Library.
While the collect-student-pee idea was never implemented, Clinton did sign the Higher Education Act reauthorization into law in 1998. The legislation included a measure stripping aid from more than 200,000 students convicted for drug offenses, something drug reformers have come to refer to as the “smoke a joint, lose your federal aid” provision. The provision has since been scaled back, though never fully repealed.
Back then, a full 75 percent of people supported requiring applicants to pass a drug test in order to receive student loans, and 80 percent supported limiting the eligibility of applicants for federal student loans should they actually test positive, according to the polling results cited by the Clinton administration. Below is the relevant section from Friday’s release:
It might as well have been a lifetime ago where drug policy is concerned.
In 1998 medical marijuana was only legal in a handful of states (today it’s available in 21). The racially loaded disparity in sentences for users of crack and users of powdered cocaine was still 100-1. And Students for Sensible Drug Policy, an organization formed to oppose policies such the ones polled above, didn’t even exist yet.
“Legalization was barely a topic for debate, much less the mainstream, majority-supported issue it is today,” said Tom Angell, who spent several years on staff at SSDP before going to work for another pro-reform group, Marijuana Majority. “If you polled this question in 2014 I’m confident you’d see dramatically less support for this draconian policy than the Clinton White House found in 1998.”
Perhaps the most relevant debate today revolves around requiring food-stamp recipients to take drug tests — and the public has evolved there less than you might think. The House of Representatives recently passed legislation that would allow states to require food-stamp recipients get drug tested, and a majority of Americans (64 percent, according to a recent Huffington Post/YouGov poll) still like the idea of drug testing for welfare recipients, a more stigmatized population than college applicants.
But if there’s one population Americans most like to see forced to pee in cups, it appears that it would be Congress. Too bad the Clinton administration didn’t think of polling that.
What We're Following See More »
According to the most recent Gallup poll, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are equally disliked. The poll, conducted between July 18 and July 25, shows both major party candidates for president are viewed favorably by 37 percent of respondents and unfavorably by 58 percent of respondents. This poll is bad news for Clinton, who has received better favorable and unfavorable ratings in nearly every poll over the last year.
The same day that Donald Trump encouraged Russia to hack the State Department and "find the 30,000 emails that are missing," the GOP nominee for vice president took a more serious approach. "If it is Russia and they are interfering in our elections, I can assure you both parties and the United States government will ensure there are serious consequences," Pence said in a statement. Trump's comments at a press conference this morning were rebuked by individuals across the political spectrum, while some on Trump's team, including prominent surrogate Newt Gingrich, have called his comments a "joke."
The Federal Open Market Committee today voted to leave interest rates alone, but "upgraded its assessment of the economy’s recent performance and said near-term risks to the outlook have diminished, effectively leaving the door open to raise rates later this year, possibly as early as September."
"Spurred by VP pick Mike Pence, a former congressman with close ties to many lawmakers, the Trump campaign in recent weeks has stepped up its courtship of wary Capitol Hill Republicans. And the efforts appear to be bearing fruit." Central to the charm offensive: invitations to more than a dozen "Senate and House members into his family’s private box for some power-schmoozing with him and his kids" during the Republican National Convention.
Donald Trump essentially encouraged more Russian espionage against Democrats in a press conference this morning. "Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” he said. “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.” That prompted Brendan Buck, spokesman for House Speaker Paul Ryan to say: “Russia is a global menace led by a devious thug. Putin should stay out of this election.”