The recalled Arizona senate president who proposed the state's controversial anti-immigration law said he could fix public assistance programs by forcibly sterilizing women who receive aid and by requiring drug tests for all recipients.
"You put me in charge of Medicaid, the first thing I'd do is get Norplant, birth-control implants, or tubal ligations,” said Russell Pearce on his weekly talk radio program. Then we'll test recipients for drugs and alcohol, and if you want to [reproduce] or use drugs or alcohol, then get a job."
He suggested drastic cuts to food assistance for needy families, reported Phoenix New Times, and he urged strict limits items that could be purchased what little help was available.
“No cash for Ding Dongs and Ho Hos, you’d only get money for 15-pound bags of rice and beans, blocks of cheese and powdered milk – all the powdered milk you can haul away,” Pearce said. “If you want a steak or frozen pizza, then you’d have to get a job.”
He also suggested Spartan accommodations and strict rules for anyone who received government housing assistance.
“Ever live in a military barracks?” he said. “You’ll maintain your property in a clean, good state of repair, and your home will be subjected to an inspection at any time, possessions will be inventoried. If you want a plasma TV or an X-Box 360, then get a job.”
Despite his apparent endorsement of draconian policies, Pearce insisted he favored a small-government solution to poverty.
"I know there's people out there [who] need help, and my heart goes out to them, too," he said. "But you know what? That should never be a government role. That's a role for family, church, and community."
When he’s not hosting his KKNT-AM program, Pearce helps promote the Elderly Assistance Fund in his taxpayer-paid position in the Maricopa County treasurer’s office.
Pearce is paid $85,000 a year in that role, the newspaper reported, and he also draws a public pension from previous government work.
He also serves as first vice-chair of the Arizona Republican Party, an elected but unpaid position.
The newspaper previously reported that Pearce, who lost a 2011 recall election over ethics concerns and his sponsorship of the controversial anti-immigration law, claimed on his job application to his recent post that he attended graduate school at the University of Arizona – which said he had not.
Pearce accepted but didn't report nearly $40,000 in paid junkets and college football tickets from Fiesta Bowl officials while helping them receive state subsidies.
He also claims to have attended graduate school at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, although he apparently overstated his participation.
A Harvard spokesman told the newspaper Pearce had attended a three-week seminar there in 1996, but he never enrolled in the Kennedy School’s graduate program.
Pearce claimed the inaccuracies were the result of information that “was simply put in the wrong box.”
Listen to Pearce's remarks in this online video:
[Image via Flickr/Gage Skidmore]