Gov Walker wants drug tests for aid recipients

Already a lightning rod for overhauling collective bargaining for state public employees, newly re-elected Republican Gov. Scott Walker wants to disrupt public assistance benefits in Wisconsin.

Walker, a conservative who's seen as a possible presidential contender in 2016, told CNBC on Wednesday he's working a plan for drug testing for people seeking unemployment checks and food stamps.

"If you want our help, we'll help you out temporarily. But we expect that you're going to find a job, and we're going to help you find that job," he said in "Squawk Box" interview. "Part of helping you do that means you're free from drugs so you can pass that [drug] test and be employed."

These kind of broad-based drug tests for state benefits would certainly face legal challenges. For example, a federal judge ruled that a similar law in Florida championed by Republican Gov. Rick Scott violated the constitutional guarantee against unreasonable government searches.

"It just seems ridiculous to me that if we're going to give people public assistance ... why we would set them up for failure," Walker said.

He refused to say whether he wanted to run for president, but he did tout his conservative credentials, saying he's a "common-sense conservative who gets things done" and it's time for a bold Washington outsider.

"I think someone like that … a chief executive at the state level who can take on the mess in Washington is the best pick for Republicans two years from now," Walker said. He added that fellow Wisconsin Republican Paul Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee, would make a good choice for president because he thinks like a governor.

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Hillary Clinton at the 2014 CGI annual meeting in New York.
Adam Jeffery | CNBC
Hillary Clinton at the 2014 CGI annual meeting in New York.

As for the presumed frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination, Hillary Clinton, Walker said she was a bigger loser than President Barack Obama in last week's midterm election, which saw the GOP win control of the Senate and widen its majority in the House.

"She's an extension [of Obama]. She'd be a third term of this president. She was a part of his Cabinet; embraces the same policies," Walker said. "She's the one most connected to Washington. I think this was a reaction to Washington."

People are tired of the "top-down, old artificial government-knows-best approach," he said. "Instead, they want this new fresh, from-the-ground-up approach that we see, particularly in the states."

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Advising Republicans on Capitol Hill, Walker reiterated a line from his recent Politico op-ed: "It's put-up-or-shut-up time." He said GOP lawmakers need to be bold and push a legislative agenda to lower personal and corporate taxes, redefine America's energy policy, repeal Obamacare, cut government waste and reform entitlements.

"The president is going to have to look twice on whether he's going to veto those things," Walker said.

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CORRECTION: This version deleted the incorrect year of Rep. Paul Ryan's vice presidential run.