When President Trump announced Wednesday that Vice President Mike Pence would oversee the government effort to contain the fast-spreading coronavirus, he said the former Indiana governor “has a certain talent for this. Look at the Indiana model, they have been very successful there,” Trump said. The White House is “using Mike because he’s very good at doing what he does,” he added.
But not everyone agrees. Trump has the worst record for picking Cabinet members; some are fired because they want to do the right thing but are hampered by an unhinged reality show president who is basically clueless on how governing works. It doesn’t work for your personal interest or to help your reelection. It’s for all Americans, not just Republicans.
Pence, who has no medical experience, will lead the response and he’ll put a gag order on any release of information on the virus outbreak. This secrecy mode is what we saw in the impeachment — no evidence, no witnesses and no accountability.
“There was an outbreak of HIV in Indiana a few years ago because Gov. Mike Pence was horrible on public health policy,” tweeted Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I. “So no, I’m not relieved that Trump has him leading the coronavirus effort.”
Pence signed legislation that cut Indiana’s budget for public health programs, despite Indiana’s high smoking rate, high obesity rate and high infant mortality rate. The state spent just $12.40 per resident on public health in Pence’s last year as governor — less than almost any other state.
While Pence was governor of Indiana, Scott County experienced the largest HIV outbreak that Indiana had seen in decades — an outbreak public health experts said was preventable. Nearly 200 people using opioids got sick after people contracted the virus by sharing dirty needles. Pence eventually lifted a ban on sterile needle exchange programs in the state at public health advocates’ urging.