Government & Politics

Trump to VA Bureaucrats: 'You're Fired!'

More than 500 employees at Veterans Affairs have been held accountable for failing to serve our veterans.

Lewis Morris · Jul. 12, 2017

The scandal-plagued United States Department of Veterans Affairs is finally being held accountable for years of dreadful mismanagement that led to suffering and death for many American veterans. A recent law signed by President Donald Trump has made it easier to remove poorly performing workers and protect whistleblowers who reveal wrongdoing at the VA.

Trump promised to reform the VA during the campaign, and since he has taken office, more than 500 VA employees have been fired. An additional 200 have been suspended, and 33 more have been demoted. Among those removed or reprimanded are physicians, pharmacy and medical technicians, office workers and nurses.

The push to reform the VA gathered significant steam after Trump took office. The bill he ultimately signed passed the House by a 368-55 vote and the Senate by unanimous voice vote.

The large-scale firing of federal employees is virtually unheard of these days. Public sector unions arm-twisted lawmakers years ago to put rules in place that made firing federal workers unbelievably difficult. Managers are even nervous to give bad performance reviews, thanks to a Merit Systems Protection Board that promotes an appeals process that can drag on for months.

It’s hard to believe that it took so long to arrive at a solution to the VA’s problems. When news first broke in 2014 about veterans dying while waiting for care on secret VA waiting lists, the outrage was loud and widespread. As the scandal unfolded, the true dysfunction at the VA became known.

It turned out that mismanagement of the VA’s financial resources led to the rationing of care by putting veterans on waiting lists for vital medical services. This took place in multiple cities, indicating that the administration’s upper management okayed the process and allowed it to continue even after the deaths of dozens of people. Further digging revealed graft, corruption, abuse of office and incompetence by numerous VA officials and field offices.

Democrats, led by Barack Obama, voiced support for the VA and attempted to downplay the scope of the problem. They also shifted blame in order to protect their precious bureaucracy.

There was a lot on the line for Democrats during this time. The dysfunctional government narrative was a key topic for the 2014 midterms and the pending 2016 presidential race. Additionally, during the ongoing debate over the problems with ObamaCare, the VA’s medical care model was often touted as proof that the federal government could effectively run health care. This made it doubly important for Democrats to downplay the VA scandal as much as possible.

Obama paid a lot of lip service to reforming the VA, but nothing ever came of his empty proclamations. A reform bill did pass the House, but the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, then chaired by Bernie Sanders (D-USSR), buried the bill and never let it come up for a vote. It turned out pleasing the public sector unions was more important than saving the lives of veterans.

Donald Trump has proven to be a far better friend to American veterans than Barack Obama and most of his Democrat cronies could ever pretend to be. Trump made good on his promise to reform the VA, and he has introduced accountability to the federal bureaucracy, up till now a foreign concept. Our veterans need and deserve the best care, and this is a good step toward providing it.

And here’s hoping that the idea spreads across the government.

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