Alexander's Column

ObamaCare v. Veteran Care

How Obama's Political Agenda Killed Veterans

Mark Alexander · May 22, 2014

Saturday, I will be at National Cemetery in Chattanooga, joining with thousands of grateful Americans across our nation, placing flags at each headstone of fellow Patriots who have served our country in uniform. We do this each year in advance of Memorial Day as a fitting gesture in honor of fallen Veterans.

Thus, it is with an especially heavy heart this week that we report not just that Veterans have died in government health care wait lines, but how a political agenda superseded the delivery of that care.

Once again, Barack Obama is entangled in another of his own web of lies, this time in connection with seven years of promises in front of Veteran groups that he would “cut those backlogs, slash those wait times and deliver [their] benefits.”

Three weeks ago, news broke that senior managers with the Department of Veterans Affairs across the nation have been, and are still, deliberately “cooking the books” to appear as if they were efficiently serving Veterans – and the deception has returned big productivity cash bonuses for those managers.

The number of Vets dying in wait lines has been on the rise since 2009, and their “commander in chief” had nothing to say about the matter for three weeks. Instead, he sent out his press secretary Jay Carney, who insisted that Obama “learned about [the scandal] through [news] reports” (a now-familiar refrain), and that the administration had no knowledge of these problems.

As we noted at the time news broke about the VA managers' deception, the VA is a case study in failed government health care delivery – there is no effective way to implement accountability in these huge government bureaucracies. We noted also that the VA case study has significant implications for the future of ObamaCare and the Democrats' ultimate goal of central government managed distribution and delivery of health care services across our nation.

Finally this week, Obama took a break from his cross-country fundraising junkets to say a few words about Vets dying in line.

According to Obama: “We all know that it often takes too long for veterans to get the care that they need. That’s not a new development. … That’s why when I came into office I said we would systematically work to fix these problems and we have been working really hard to address them. … When I hear allegations of misconduct, any misconduct, whether it’s allegations of VA staff covering up long wait times or cooking the books, I will not stand for it – not as commander in chief, but also not as an American. None of us should. So, if these allegations prove to be true, it is dishonorable, it is disgraceful, and I will not tolerate it – period. … Taking care of veterans and their families has been one of the causes of my presidency.”

Apparently, “taking care of veterans and their families” has not been “one of the causes,” whatever that really means.

Why?

Though Obama made “serving Veterans” a central theme of his campaign, and has since given that “cause” some lip service, the administration could not elevate the colossal failure of government-managed health care services by the VA to front and center without significantly undermining Obama’s political agenda to nationalize health care for all Americans. They could not let the epidemic of bureaucratic incompetence in government-managed health care at the VA interfere with their agenda to spread that epidemic across the nation.

Conservative analyst Jonah Goldberg likewise believes the VA presents a huge problem for Democrats: “Why? Because the Democratic party simply is the party of government. It is the party that insists on the nobility, efficacy and intellectual superiority of government. The VA is at the intersection of all the things liberals insist are wise and good and just about government. It is government-run healthcare. It is the tangible fulfillment of a sacred obligation the government has with those who’ve sacrificed most for our nation. It is also the one institution and/or constituency that enjoys huge bipartisan support. The VA, rhetorically and politically, is more sacrosanct and less controversial than Medicare, Social Security, road building, the NIH, or public schools. We are constantly told that we could get so many wonderful, super-fantastic things done if only both sides would lay down their ideological blah blah blah blah and work together for yada yada yada. Well, welcome to the VA. How’s that working out for you?”

Yet Obama still insisted, “I want every Veteran to know: We are going to fix whatever is wrong.” To the contrary, he has now forced every American into the bureaucratic VA model with its systemic problems.

Despite the fact that the House passed a bill this week to make it easier to fire incompetent VA managers – by a strong bipartisan vote of 390-33 – Obama’s water boy, Bernie Sanders, Chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, has blocked further action on the House bill. Sanders, the only member of that chamber who openly identifies as “Socialist,” said, “Some of us are old-fashioned enough to know that maybe folks in the Senate might want to know what is in the bill before we voted on it.”

Apparently he is more “old fashioned” than then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who infamously said of the ObamaCare legislation, “We have to pass the bill so you can find out what is in it.” Also doing her part this week to deflect responsibility for the VA scandal from Obama to his predecessor, Pelosi declared, “Maybe when we going to war we should be thinking about its consequences and ramifications. You would think that would be a given but maybe it wasn’t.”

Of course, Democrats are stalling on this legislation so as not to offend their loyal government union constituency.

Perhaps Congress should consider another piece of legislation to improve services at the VA: Make the Commander in Chief, and all his cabinet level appointees, get in line for VA medical services instead of the VIP medical treatment they now receive.

In May 2008, then-candidate Obama declared, “The true test of our patriotism is whether we will serve our returning heroes as well as they have served us.” It comes as no surprise to those of us who have honored our oaths “to Support and Defend” that Obama has failed that test.

The fact is, the administration’s political agenda trumped the health care of American Veterans. Obama lied and Vets died.

Footnote: A FOIA request is on the way for all White House emails concerning the political implications of addressing the VA issues and ObamaCare agenda.

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