Washington Free Beacon staff writer Charles Fain Lehman on Monday called South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg's plan to combat mental illness and addiction "very misguided."
Lehman said on Hill.TV's Rising that the Democratic presidential candidate focuses on "surface-level treatments" and misses "the underlying causes" of falling life expectancy. Lehman also criticized Buttigieg's 2020 rival Andrew Yang, saying he is "not convinced" Yang is right to focus on automation as the root problem industrial communities face.
Yang and Buttigieg are two of the few Democratic presidential candidates who have addressed crises related to opioid overdoses and job loss in the industrial Midwest. These issues were pivotal in determining the 2016 election and will be important again in 2020, Lehman said.
"Opioid overdose rates in a given county predict how much that county swung for Donald Trump in the 2016 election," Lehman said.
He added that Trump ought to deal with life expectancy issues as president as he has "a political interest in coming out very strong against all of these issues."
Buttigieg's plan proposes creating programs to treat people with mental health problems in an effort to reduce "deaths of despair." The plan focuses heavily on the rise of suicide without addressing possible economic causes, such as normalized trade with China, that could be contributing to the spike.