Column: Pence is his own ‘death squad’ and Hoosiers are his victims


I’ve written disparaging columns on Gov. Mike Pence in the past. When he was first elected, I wrote that no Indiana governor had ever taken office with lower expectations than Pence.

Last fall, I gave his job performance a “D” letter-grade. Needless to say, I’ve not been impressed.

But now there’s talk of Pence running for U.S. President. Is this really what we want? Is this what the country needs?

Other than removing him from the Indiana Governor’s Mansion, I can’t think of any possible reason Pence should run.

Consider the following facts: Pence promised to stay “above politics” (whatever that means) when he first took office. Almost immediately, he chose to create the Center for Education and Innovation, designed to continue the supposedly creative and successful policies of former State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett – ideas so unpopular Bennett was removed from office by Hoosier voters.

Pence appoints all the members to this Center for Education and Innovation, a group whose goal appears to be overturning everything Bennett’s successor, the duly-elected Carmel resident Glenda Ritz, tries to accomplish.

Pence has mentioned that he’d like to see the governor appoint the State Superintendent. I guess that’s so he won’t have to work with an elected Democrat, right?

While offering little to no guidance during his first legislative session, Pence managed to eagerly sign a bill which eliminates the three at-large positions on the Indianapolis City Council. Currently, these at-large positions are all held by, you guessed it, Democrats.

Why the governor would feel the need to insert himself into local Indianapolis politics is beyond me, but at least the creation of the Center for Education and Innovation and the redesigning of the Indianapolis City Council keeps Pence “above the political fray,” don’t you think?

Pence also volunteered to sign legislation keeping gay and lesbian Hoosiers from marrying those they love. Fortunately, our legislature was smart enough to let that issue die. Pence, apparently, was not.

Since my last column on Gov. Pence, he’s made several moves which have caused me to mentally drop his letter-grade from a “D” to an “F.”

First, he wrote U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to advise him that Indiana would not comply with federal prison rape standards, claiming their expense as his reason. Now, none of us likes to pay taxes, but surely this is one area where we can all agree the law needs to be strengthened.

Far too many prison rapes occur. I have to wonder about the expense of hiring additional staff and purchasing new equipment versus the expense of doing nothing. Pence claims he doesn’t want to redirect tax money from other critical needs. Like what? Corporate welfare? Is Pence’s head screwed on straight?

Speaking of which, Pence refused federal aid for setting up a so-called “work sharing” program – which allows companies facing hard times (read, Indiana’s small businesses) to reduce workers’ hours rather than laying them off. This program allows workers to keep their health insurance and retirement benefits while the companies they work for restructure.

Pence’s refusal to participate in federal work-sharing is yet another slap in the face to Indiana’s working class. It was bad enough Pence’s predecessor, Gov. Mitch Daniels, eliminated Indiana’s collective bargaining agreement and subsequently pushed hard for Indiana to become a “Right To Work For Less” state – moves which essentially ruined what was left of organized labor in Indiana and consequently further destroyed what was left of Indiana’s middle-class.

So Pence turned down a free offer from the federal government? Hmmm… He’s getting quite good at that.

He’s also turned down the federal government’s offer to provide health care to Hoosiers least able to afford it – in many cases these would be people who also could have benefited from work-sharing.

Now, Pence wants to use the existing structure of Daniels’ Healthy Indiana plan as a means of utilizing federal funds through the Affordable Health Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare.

While Obamacare is a terrible plan (health care should have been run as a single-payer plan via an expansion of the existing and successful Medicare program – not through private insurers), it’s all we’ve got right now.

Keeping the structure of Healthy Indiana in place sounds great on paper, but it will require those least able to afford health care to meet high deductibles.

High deductibles??? That’s why they don’t have health care in the first place, Governor!

And now you want to be president? Why, to make life difficult for workers, teachers, and homosexuals throughout this great land? Not a chance, I say!

Remember when Obamacare was in its infancy, and several voices on the far right wing (Sarah Palin’s was loudest, but Fox News was most guilty) warned of “death squads” comprised of federal bureaucrats, which would determine whether our grandparents would get to live or die?

This was an obvious political scare tactic, which has turned out to be false.

But what are Republican governors like Pence doing by refusing to participate in the Affordable Care Act? Are they not determining who receives medical treatment? Is Pence not determining which Hoosier citizens live and die? In a way, Pence is his own “death squad,” and again, we Hoosiers are the victims.



  1. Mike Carmel on

    I think running for president would be the best thing Pence could do. Whenever they give a person with his kind of ideological bent a microphone and an open forum (Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann, Richard Murdock, Sarah Palin, etc.) they end up hanging themselves on the cord.

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