On Wednesday, President Donald Trump announced that Vice President Mike Pence would lead U.S. efforts to combat the spread of the coronavirus. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-Grow Yucca in NYC), defender of science extraordinaire, slammed Pence for his dogged refusal to “believe in science” and called it “utterly irresponsible” to put him in charge of U.S. efforts against the virus. Ironically, AOC and her allies also support Medicare for All, a socialized medicine plan that would put elected government leaders in charge of the health care industry.
“Mike Pence literally does not believe in science. It is utterly irresponsible to put him in charge of US coronavirus response as the world sits on the cusp of a pandemic. This decision could cost people their lives. Pence’s past decisions already have,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted.
Mike Pence literally does not believe in science.
It is utterly irresponsible to put him in charge of US coronavirus response as the world sits on the cusp of a pandemic.
This decision could cost people their lives. Pence’s past decisions already have. https://t.co/NhMPOusOWm
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) February 27, 2020
Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) also condemned Pence for putting “ideology over science.”
“As governor, Mike Pence put ideology over science & contributed to one of the worst HIV crises his state had ever seen. In 2000, he wrote an op-ed arguing ‘smoking doesn’t kill.’ We need competence & science driving our response—that’s not the VP’s record,” Merkley tweeted.
As governor, Mike Pence put ideology over science & contributed to one of the worst HIV crises his state had ever seen. In 2000, he wrote an op-ed arguing “smoking doesn’t kill.” We need competence & science driving our response—that’s not the VP’s record. https://t.co/BgTE2ClbFR
— Senator Jeff Merkley (@SenJeffMerkley) February 27, 2020
Jon Cooper, a bundler for Obama in 2008 and 2012, also slammed Pence as a science-denier.
Science-denier Mike Pence put in charge of US response to Coronavirus outbreak: What could POSSIBLY go wrong? 🧐
— Jon Cooper 🇺🇸 (@joncoopertweets) February 27, 2020
Pence has made some mistakes in his past. Worried about whether needle exchanges would worsen drug use, he reluctantly agreed to authorize a needle exchange program in March 2015 after an HIV epidemic. Greg Millett, director of public policy at amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research, said Indiana’s HIV outbreak would have been “entirely preventable” had Pence acted earlier, NBC News reported.
Despite Millett’s criticism of Pence’s HIV strategy, he said he was encouraged by the vice president’s announcement Thursday that Debbie Brix, the administration’s global AIDS coordinator, will serve under Pence as the White House coronavirus response coordinator. “She’ll bring in people who are experts in infectious diseases who can mount an effective response,” he said.
Those criticizing Pence as a “science-denier” might want to look in the mirror. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) delivered a powerful rebuke to AOC after her attack on Pence.
“As you are speaking as the oracle of science, tell us, what exactly is a Y chromosome?” Cruz tweeted, drawing attention to AOC’s support for dangerous transgender activism that denies the biological reality of sex as male and female.
“And at what age of gestation does science tell us that an unborn child feels physical pain?” Cruz added, slamming AOC for her support for abortion after 20 weeks gestation. Finally, he slammed her for her climate alarmism and advocacy of the dangerous and expensive Green New Deal. “And, of the 195 countries on planet Earth, which country produced the greatest total reduction in CO2 emissions in 2019?” he asked. U.S. leadership in reducing greenhouse gas emissions — in the absence of radical environmentalist policy — is a powerful science-based rebuke of her alarmism.
As you are speaking as the oracle of science, tell us, what exactly is a Y chromosome? https://t.co/t4XVVzWr3A
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) February 27, 2020
Cruz could have gone even further. Last May, AOC attacked the mindset of “colonial environmentalism” that encourages people in northern climates like New York City to grow plants that fit the local environment, rather than the environment from which immigrants came. She argued that Hispanic immigrants from warmer climates who now live in New York should disregard the naysayers and grow plants like yucca, which do not fit the northern climate of the Big Apple. Few other statements illustrate just how ridiculous and anti-science AOC’s identity politics activism truly is.
Regardless of which side is more correct on science, AOC’s complaint illustrates how dangerous it is to put the government in control of health care. Ocasio-Cortez objected that political figures with whom she disagrees should not be in charge of vital health care projects. Her anger at Pence’s leadership on this issue illustrates the folly of government-controlled health care, which she vehemently supports.
If the government controls the health care industry in a “Medicare for All” plan, or even through a less-intrusive but still dangerous “public option” plan, that system will inevitably involve political leaders overseeing the health care industry. That may seem all well and good when Ocasio-Cortez’s preferred political party holds the reins of the federal government, but Democrats will not always hold sway over America. When Republicans — whom AOC rushes to demonize as anti-science — take back control, she will fear for the health care industry.
This fear of political meddling in business is a strong argument for limited government and free markets. Not only do free markets work better than government control, but they also involve less political bias in the marketplace. Businesses, hospitals, and patients should not have to fear volatile shifts in care based on whoever is in office.
Ironically, AOC’s comments actually prove how dangerous her socialized medicine plan is, and why Americans should reject the vision of government health care she shares with Bernie Sanders and the rest of the Democratic Party.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.