Right Hooks

Obama Using Constitution to Club Vets

He's got a thin excuse for avoiding reform of the VA.

Nate Jackson · Sep. 6, 2016

Governing according to the Constitution is exactly what every elected official ought to strive to do. They have, after all, sworn an oath to do so. But whenever Barack Obama evokes the Constitution to argue for or against a policy, one of two things is at play — he’s grabbing power, or he’s lying. Or both. Such is the case with a few reform proposals for the Department of Veterans Affairs. Congress established the Commission on Care to review the VA and recommend changes so that veterans would no longer die waiting for appointments, but would receive the care they deserve. The panel made 18 recommendations, and Obama said he agreed with 15 of them. But Government Executive reports, “He rejected a proposal to restructure the Veterans Health Administration governance, including the creation of an 11-member board of directors to set the agency’s long-term strategy. Obama said the Justice Department has told him the reform would violate the appointments clause of the Constitution.”

In a letter to House and Senate leaders, Obama wrote, “The proposal would undermine the authority of the secretary and the under secretary for health, weaken the integration of the VA health care system with the other services and programs provided by the VA and make it harder — not easier — for VA to implement transformative change.” Wrong. The proposal changes the structure of oversight, moving power away from the people who’ve made such a hash of the VA’s workings, while leaving confirmation power with the president. This commander in chief has done next to nothing to make the VA work better for veterans, and now he’s hiding behind the Constitution as an excuse. The same Constitution he tramples at every whim. How disgraceful.

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