Is the VA scandal a funding issue, or a leadership failure?

posted at 10:01 am on May 22, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

We’ll be doing deep dives into the scandal at the VA as the story progresses, but one particular canard has to get addressed directly as it tends to muddy understanding of the true causes of this deadly failure of leadership. Over the last few days, some have suggested that the issue at the VA has been a lack of resources, by which the US has shortchanged the VA in budgets and in patient spending. While one can argue whether resources within the VA have been adequately focused — which is a leadership issue — one cannot argue that the VA has lacked for resources from Congress in the form of budgets or per-patient spending.

OMB historical data on budget outlays by department are easily available at the White House website, and the spreadsheet tells a very interesting story.  Since 9/11, the VA budget has increased by 235%, from FY2001′s $45 billion annual budget to FY2014′s $150.7 billion. On a percentage basis, the only Cabinet agencies that had larger budget increases over that arc have been State (271%) and Homeland Security (245%), the latter of which barely existed at the start of that period. In the Bush era, comparing the final budget with his signature (FY08) to the final Clinton budget (FY01), VA spending rose 88.3% to $84.7 billion. Defense spending rose 104% in the same period.

Barack Obama ran in 2007-8 on failures at the VA, promising more resources and better management. In comparison to that final Bush budget — don’t forget that Obama signed the FY2009 budget in March 2009 with the omnibus spending bill after a Democrat-controlled Congress refused to deal with Bush — VA spending has risen dramatically as well. The annual budget rose 78% in six budget cycles, with double-digit increases in four of the six years — while Defense spending was flat. No other Cabinet agency had a larger budget increase by percentage during Obama’s tenure. The closest was Agriculture (64%), followed by State (59%, which tends to discredit the canard about the Benghazi failure being caused by a lack of resources). Only HHS had a larger annual budget increase in terms of dollars spent, but it amounts to a 37% increase in spending from the FY2008 baseline. The amount of increase in the VA’s budget in the Obama era, $65.9 billion, exceeds the entire VA budget in the FY2004 budget.

During this entire period, Eric Shinseki has been the man in charge of the VA and the recipient of this massive increase in resources. Despite all of the new resources and a supposed mandate for reform, Shinseki has utterly failed to improve the situation for America’s veterans. Instead of holding Shinseki accountable for this failure of leadership, Obama put him in charge of investigating his own failure. In my column for The Fiscal Times, I argue that this is a dereliction of leadership on Obama’s part as well as Shinseki’s, and a potential conflict of interest:

“Nobody cares about our veterans more than Ric Shinseki,” Obama assured reporters. “I want to know the full scope of this problem, and that’s why I ordered Secretary Shinseki to investigate.”

That’s absurd on at least two levels. First, as Obama also noted in his remarks, the Inspector General has an open investigation into the wait-list fraud. The IG should be independent of VA executives, including Shinseki himself, and that investigation may well end up making Shinseki’s performance a subject for the probe. Having Shinseki run his own investigation parallel to an IG probe is problematic at best, and potentially a conflict of interest. …

Eric Shinseki had more than five years and plenty of additional resources to solve this problem, or even to “investigate” it. Yet the White House claimed this week that it was so shocked by the scandal that it hadn’t heard anything about wait-list fraud until news media began reporting on dying veterans languishing on faked appointment schedules. In any other organization, that kind of executive incompetence would get a subordinate fired. In the Obama administration, it gets the subordinate a televised statement of confidence and control over the investigation into his own lack of action.

This time, though, Shinseki’s position and Obama’s shrug may prove untenable. Two House Democrats, Georgia Reps. David Scott and John Barrow, followed Obama’s breezy business-as-usual speech by demanding Shinseki’s resignation. Rep. Tammy Duckworth – herself a disabled veteran – demanded that Obama provide “his personal attention”rather than relying on Shinseki. CNN’s Drew Griffin summed up the disappointment from veterans groups to the non-action of the Commander in Chief by reporting that what “they did not want to hear is we’re going to wait for, yet again, another investigation, office of inspector general report, or some fact-finding mission.”

At the moment, though, Obama refuses to make his subordinates accountable for their own failures. A lot of incompetent bureaucrats will sleep easier tonight with this object lesson on accountability and leadership in the federal government from President Obama. Too bad our veterans won’t be able to join them.

Dana Milbank also slams Obama’s “passivity” in the face of excruciating reality:

“If these allegations prove to be true, it is dishonorable,” he said. “If there is misconduct, it will be punished.”

Obama spoke of only “the possibility that somebody was trying to manipulate the data” on appointment wait lists, and he suggested that “whatever is wrong” may be “just an episodic problem.”

But there are no “ifs” about it: Numerous inquiries and leaked memos over several years point to “gaming strategies” employed at VA facilities to make wait times for medical appointments seem shorter — and these clearly aren’t limited to those reported in Phoenix; AlbuquerqueFort Collins, Colo.; and elsewhere. Lawmakers in both parties have spoken of a systemic problem at the agency, and the American Legion, citing “poor oversight,” has called for Shinseki’s resignation — the first time it has made such a gesture in more than 70 years.

Obama said Wednesday that he doesn’t want the matter to become “another political football,” and that’s understandable. But his response to the scandal has created an inherent contradiction: He can’t be “madder than hell” about something if he won’t acknowledge that the thing actually occurred. This would be a good time for Obama to knock heads and to get in front of the story. But, frustratingly, he’s playing President Passive, insisting on waiting for the VA’s inspector general to complete yet another investigation, this one looking into the Phoenix deaths. …

Obama doesn’t need an IG to tell him “if” there has been mismanagement and misconduct. He needs only his eyes and ears.

The NRCC has a good video about President Passive and his detachment from reality that hit this morning:

The VA scandal is a leadership failure from top to bottom. That’s not a meme — it’s a deadly reality.

Update: John Merline has a great analysis of VA spending at Investors Business Daily, and takes a look at it from another angle:

Medical care spending — which consumes about 40% of the VA’s budget — has climbed 193% over those years, while the number of patients served by the VA each year went up just 68%, according to data from the VA.

From 2008 to 2012 alone, per-patient spending at the VA climbed 27%. To put that in perspective, per capita health spending nationwide rose just 13% during those years.

And per-enrollee spending for Medicare went up only 10%, government data show.

Some will argue that the increase in health spending was the direct result of all those wounded warriors coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan.

But these vets aren’t driving VA costs higher.

Congressional Budget Office report found that they cost $4,800, on average, in 2010 compared with $8,800 for other veterans who used the system.

It also found that while these Iraq and Afghan vets account for 7% of those treated, they were responsible for only 4% of its health costs.

I linked it in my TFT column, but it’s worth including here again.


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Big time leadership failure…

OmahaConservative on May 22, 2014 at 10:03 AM

FUNDING!!!!

REPUBLICANS!!!!!

SEQUESTER!!!!

BOOOOOOSSSSSSSHHHHH!!!!

SQUIRREL!!!!!!!!!

BigWyo on May 22, 2014 at 10:04 AM

Why does the VA give bonuses…?

d1carter on May 22, 2014 at 10:05 AM

Is the VA scandal a funding issue, or a leadership failure?

It’s a criminal act … a whole collection of criminal acts.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on May 22, 2014 at 10:05 AM

Is the VA scandal a funding issue, or a leadership failure?

…duh!…what do I win?

KOOLAID2 on May 22, 2014 at 10:06 AM

Ed you should pop in Durbins mj appearance….. its all about the money according to him

But I’ll go with door #2 Monty

cmsinaz on May 22, 2014 at 10:06 AM

Both, and for years.

pambi on May 22, 2014 at 10:06 AM

Considering the “Leadership” at the top is letting the bureaucracy police itself on this one, when he was complaining about the VA while running against McBush, id say its a leadership problem.

FalafalAlKabob on May 22, 2014 at 10:07 AM

Romney, where are you?

vnvet on May 22, 2014 at 10:07 AM

On the other hand, it can’t be leadership.

Look how well EVERYTHING else associated with the SCOAMF is working out.

ACA, IRS, VA, F&F, Benghazi, et. al.

If we could just figure out what all of these things have in common…

Top Men should get on this…..

BigWyo on May 22, 2014 at 10:07 AM

It is the inevitable outcome of a government run program.

NotCoach on May 22, 2014 at 10:08 AM

Dems keep blaming the 2 wars on this travesty

Bush!!!!!!

cmsinaz on May 22, 2014 at 10:08 AM

It’s a racism scandal, of course, perpetrated by Communism Works! deniers or something.

trubble on May 22, 2014 at 10:09 AM

It was definitely Funding….

Yeah, they were only spending 1.3 trillion a year instead
of 100 Quintillion….

ToddPA on May 22, 2014 at 10:09 AM

Obama said Wednesday that he doesn’t want the matter to become “another political football,”

Hahahahahaha!!!!!!!!!!!!

This from the same POS who makes EVERYTHING “political”!

GarandFan on May 22, 2014 at 10:09 AM

Neither. It is a failure of the model. Any model that does not incentivize individual achievement is doomed to mediocrity. That is why private doctors see up to eight time as many patients as VA doctors. Scrap the VA and move to a voucher ssystem.

Meat Fighter on May 22, 2014 at 10:10 AM

It’s a failure of socialism. It isn’t about funding or leadership, it’s about government run entities, that’s the point we should be driving home.

lowandslow on May 22, 2014 at 10:10 AM

It is a failure of socialized medicine: a centralized yet inefficient bureaucracy, adminstratively top-heavy, unable to compete for -let alone attract- the most competent medical professionals or administrators.

Talk to any any 90 year old veteran, any 80 year old veteran, any 70 year old veteran, any 60 year old veteran, any 50 year old veteran, any 40 year old veteran …

Thus has it ever been.

M240H on May 22, 2014 at 10:11 AM

I worked in a government run health facility. Everyone strives to lower themselves to the lowest common denominator. These are union workers who really are the worst people on the planet. They spend their days ditching work, sickening. I could only last 5 years. I remember one night watching the Director put equipment in his car. The VA upper staff were handing themselves bonuses and the union probably had their own graft going on so everyone keeps quiet to keep the scam going. Obamacare here we come.

tessa on May 22, 2014 at 10:12 AM

Of course it’s a leadership failure. We haven’t had a leader since 1/20/2009.

Bitter Clinger on May 22, 2014 at 10:12 AM

Why does the VA give bonuses…?

d1carter on May 22, 2014 at 10:05 AM

…the bonus for the Arizona salesperson got $8,000.00 for the month!…and VA doctors see 1 person for every 8 that other doctors see…so it has to be a funding problem!
If you can work that down and only see 1 person for every 10 that other doctors see…and let more ‘collateral’ die…you get $10,000 for the month…plus your salary?

KOOLAID2 on May 22, 2014 at 10:13 AM

Just like everything else with the military, it is a failure of the activity model. Been crap for years and years.

Vets, if we do decide that they should have what is essentially Medicare for life, should get a card. Docs look at it and send a bill to the VA. Problem solved.

If we intend for just “war related injuries” the same solution applies. Just have the doc make the call whether it is or not.

antisense on May 22, 2014 at 10:15 AM

Aren’t veterans organized?…no lobbyists in Congress?
Where are all the protests against this shabby treatment by vets?

albill on May 22, 2014 at 10:15 AM

There will never be enough money, if you work for the VA.

docflash on May 22, 2014 at 10:15 AM

It’s a gubmint run operation. It will always be a failure. No amount of money will ever fix it, and there is no such thing as political “leadership” except in the area of screwing Americans .”

they lie on May 22, 2014 at 10:16 AM

It’s neither. The choice was deliberately and intentionally made to turn the VA into a testing ground for European-style socialized medicine, including shifting focus from quality of care delivered to the patient TO loyalty to government as the primary payer.

Rationing is one of THE hallmarks of socialized medicine. End justifies the means. “So, you have to scramble a few eggs to make an omelet….big deal”.

lineholder on May 22, 2014 at 10:17 AM

Public Sector Unions….

d1carter on May 22, 2014 at 10:19 AM

The smartest man in the world apparently isn’t. Would love to know what a typical day in his life is.

And, BTW, I have it on good authority that Obama was meeting with a political bundler when Benghazi was happening. That was before he ran off to a California fundraiser. No wonder the WH wants everything covered up. He isn’t serving us, he’s serving himself.

COgirl on May 22, 2014 at 10:20 AM

It’s a funding issue, throwing money at something will always end with positive results, that has been proven time and again.

Just look at the “War On Poverty”, trillions spent since the ’60s and bingo bango, poverty has been eradicated.

Bishop on May 22, 2014 at 10:21 AM

Mark Levin was discussing this last night. The number of living veterans has declined significantly in the past 15 years as many of the millions of WWII vets are dying and the VA has had significant budget increases in the past decade.

Anyone who has ever worked for the government or served in the armed forces understands how wasteful and inefficient the government is.

bw222 on May 22, 2014 at 10:21 AM

From before Obama was president the VA has had problems. And every time a There is a scandal at the VA they increase their budget and nothing gets fixed, but he money keeps flowing in. The cynic in me thinks the people there are purposely messing up so thy can get more money out of it.

When your budget increases 225% and you still can’t get your act together it is not a money problem, it is an organization problem. Changing one guy at the top is not going to fix the VA.

coolrepublica on May 22, 2014 at 10:23 AM

Is the VA scandal a funding issue, or a leadership failure?

It is neither. These are the kinds of things that happen in a single payer system and we conservatives need to be trumpeting that rather than using this as a cudgel to bash Obama. If we could do both, great, but the former is the more important because although he’ll be gone in a couple of years, the progressives will still be singing the praises of single payer.

Occams Stubble on May 22, 2014 at 10:24 AM

Obama saw the problems of veterans’ medical care as a great issue to run on in 2007-08. But it’s not an issue, once elected, he and his allies could really derive any more control over people out of — the VA’s been around since the Hoover Administration, so other than tying it into his overall desire to see full government control of everyone’s health care, the situation was nothing more than a political prop. Veterans have been getting government-run health care for 84 years, so any effort the White House pointed that way wasn’t going to add to their domain.

It was never a big issue to Obama, and when you combine it with how he truly believes governance runs — i.e. everyone does what he tells them to do while he plays golf and watches SportsCenter, and then once it’s all done, everyone gives Obama the credit — it’s no shock that no one in the administration gave a damn not just to follow up on their own campaign promises, but follow up on the warnings of the VA’s problems put out in the past 24 months.

jon1979 on May 22, 2014 at 10:26 AM

It is neither. These are the kinds of things that happen in a single payer system and we conservatives need to be trumpeting that rather than using this as a cudgel to bash Obama. If we could do both, great, but the former is the more important because although he’ll be gone in a couple of years, the progressives will still be singing the praises of single payer.

Occams Stubble on May 22, 2014 at 10:24 AM

Don’t confuse single payer with single provider.

As bad as single payer would be, single provider (which is essentially what the VA is) is even worse!

airupthere on May 22, 2014 at 10:28 AM

From before Obama was president the VA has had problems. And every time a There is a scandal at the VA they increase their budget and nothing gets fixed, but he money keeps flowing in. The cynic in me thinks the people there are purposely messing up so thy can get more money out of it.

coolrepublica on May 22, 2014 at 10:23 AM

And yet it never occurs to you this is the inevitable outcome of government run programs? The VA healthcare system has always been bad regardless of leadership and funding. Why is that?

When your budget increases 225% and you still can’t get your act together it is not a money problem, it is an organization problem. Changing one guy at the top is not going to fix the VA.

But this mythical fixing is still what you support. How about instead of the VA system we give the money directly to vets and let them seek out those who will serve them well themselves.

NotCoach on May 22, 2014 at 10:28 AM

It’s a leadership failure. Even if under-funded and under-resourced (they were not), the VA leadership have been bad stewards of what they received to care for the veterans.

Happy Nomad on May 22, 2014 at 10:30 AM

Don’t confuse single payer with single provider.

As bad as single payer would be, single provider (which is essentially what the VA is) is even worse!

airupthere on May 22, 2014 at 10:28 AM

Would it not also become single provider under a single payer system? The inevitable slide in such a system in towards nationalization of everything as the feds attempt to restrict choice and payouts in a futile attempt to reign in costs.

NotCoach on May 22, 2014 at 10:30 AM

Hey Ed, this is good information but we might also need the number of increased patients using the system to finish the equation. I’m not suggesting that the budget isn’t sufficient, I’m just saying that spending per veteran and the services that could be gotten for that money is a pretty compelling argument.

Cindy Munford on May 22, 2014 at 10:32 AM

And, BTW, I have it on good authority that Obama was meeting with a political bundler when Benghazi was happening. That was before he ran off to a California fundraiser. No wonder the WH wants everything covered up. He isn’t serving us, he’s serving himself.

COgirl on May 22, 2014 at 10:20 AM

That does seem to be a prevailing theory. The whole reason for not disclosing where the rat-eared wonder was that night centers on the fact that he was engaged in political work as the consulate was attacked and Christopher Stevens (and the others) were injured or killed.

Happy Nomad on May 22, 2014 at 10:33 AM

It’s a gubmint run operation. It will always be a failure. No amount of money will ever fix it, and there is no such thing as political “leadership” except in the area of screwing Americans .”

they lie on May 22, 2014 at 10:16 AM

This. Obama said: “If these allegations prove to be true, it is dishonorable,” he said. “If there is misconduct, it will be punished.”

But in Obama world, in Democrats world, they won’t find misconduct because no one, I mean no one in Government is to be held responsible. They rationalize : “You see, it’s the system, not the people. We just need more money for the system”.

And yet, they want the “system” (ie Government/Bureaucracy) to continue to grow. It’s rather mind blowingly sick if you think about it.

WisRich on May 22, 2014 at 10:33 AM

Mark Levin was discussing this last night. The number of living veterans has declined significantly in the past 15 years as many of the millions of WWII vets are dying and the VA has had significant budget increases in the past decade.

Anyone who has ever worked for the government or served in the armed forces understands how wasteful and inefficient the government is.

bw222 on May 22, 2014 at 10:21 AM

Not to defend a hopelessly effed up gubment bureaucracy, but it would be nice to know how much of the increased budget is going toward advanced technology which the VA didn’t have before.

Considering current battlefield medicine, there has to be some factoring for care of soldiers who would have died either in the field or soon after from complications not too long ago.

Bishop on May 22, 2014 at 10:34 AM

Tammy Duckworth – herself a disabled veteran – demanded that Obama provide “his personal attention”rather than relying on Shinseki.

 
One of the many things President Obama learned from his father.

rogerb on May 22, 2014 at 10:36 AM

Hey Ed, this is good information but we might also need the number of increased patients using the system to finish the equation. I’m not suggesting that the budget isn’t sufficient, I’m just saying that spending per veteran and the services that could be gotten for that money is a pretty compelling argument.

Cindy Munford on May 22, 2014 at 10:32 AM

Cindy, when the VA gets caught purging the backlog of patients waiting, how can you get an accurate number of veterans accessing the system?

More importantly, not every dime the VA got went to patient care. Besides the bonuses, that facility in Phoenix spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on redecorating and $180K on landscaping (to name just some of the waste). What I want to see is the percentage of the VA budget goes directly to patient care and veterans services.

Happy Nomad on May 22, 2014 at 10:38 AM

When you’ve lost Dana….

Deano1952 on May 22, 2014 at 10:40 AM

“Leadership failure?”

What leadership?

Narcissists make poor leaders, and we got us a Olympic grade narcissist promising (Lying) the moon – just as long as nobody accuses him of any responsibility.

Maybe someone could make an ointment out of Obama to rub on the Democrats bung holes. They are going to need it.

dockywocky on May 22, 2014 at 10:42 AM

Valerie to Obama: “We’ve just got to let more of these soldiers die in the field and keep them out of the VA!”

Deano1952 on May 22, 2014 at 10:42 AM

Is the VA scandal a funding issue, or a leadership failure?

WT* is the matter with you?

The biggest prize has landed in our lap and we don’t even recognize it.

The VA scandal points out that ObamaCare will never work. Government healthcare doesn’t work. It can’t work.

Going further. Liberalism doesn’t work. Government solutions doom us.

Competition is the only answer.

faraway on May 22, 2014 at 10:42 AM

Happy Nomad on May 22, 2014 at 10:38 AM

If we want the average person in the country to understand it is easier to break it down (generally) by per patient spending. Like they do for schools per pupil. Maybe the information isn’t available but people view things in terms of their own situation and what they have to spend on healthcare in a year and what they get for it, compared to our veterans. If it can’t be done, that’s fine, I just think it paints a clearer picture.

Cindy Munford on May 22, 2014 at 10:42 AM

Dems keep blaming the 2 wars on this travesty

Bush!!!!!!

cmsinaz on May 22, 2014 at 10:08 AM

Didn’t Obama order a surge in Afghanistan?

Doughboy on May 22, 2014 at 10:43 AM

CYA is just normal government procedure, but the scorched-earth politics that the Obama Administration practices tends to turbocharge these cover-ups within the bureaucracy. Obama does industrial-strength coverup.

RBMN on May 22, 2014 at 10:43 AM

1. Giant government agencies don’t work.

2. They cheat and lie to try to make it work or look like it’s working.

crankyoldlady on May 22, 2014 at 10:43 AM

faraway on May 22, 2014 at 10:42 AM

It doesn’t have to be either/or, let’s get our folks taken care of PDQ, then make the comparisons.

Cindy Munford on May 22, 2014 at 10:44 AM

Why does the VA give bonuses…?

d1carter on May 22, 2014 at 10:05 AM

Good question. Why do ANY Federal employees get “bonuses”? Why do Federal Employees including Teachers think they need a union to protect them from their employer – the taxpayers?

/puke

Key West Reader on May 22, 2014 at 10:44 AM

Didn’t Obama order a surge in Afghanistan?

Doughboy on May 22, 2014 at 10:43 AM

It’s been redefined as an authorized incursion.

I try to keep you ‘wingers informed but to be honest it’s getting tiresome.

Bishop on May 22, 2014 at 10:47 AM

More funding! a.k.a. “A scandal is a terrible thing to waste.”

Carnac on May 22, 2014 at 10:48 AM

Option 3. Ideological denial.

2008/2012 Obama sold the public on government solutions to get ObamaCare passed and implemented. Republicans have an irrational cynicism towards government, he lectured the public.

He incorporated it in commencement speeches; Kids proclaiming that the government is the only thing we all belong to; Those other guys were only in it for profit.

He knew. They knew. But were unwilling to do anything that might enable the hemorrhaging support for ObamaCare.

swamp_yankee on May 22, 2014 at 10:55 AM

Considering current battlefield medicine, there has to be some factoring for care of soldiers who would have died either in the field or soon after from complications not too long ago.

Bishop on May 22, 2014 at 10:34 AM

As those wounded during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are initially treated at military medical facilities and are not released until they are sufficiently “healed”, I would guess that the majority of those who died while on “wait lists”, were not OIF/OEF veterans, but elderly veterans from the WWII/Korea/Vietnam eras. Further, it is my understanding that those treated in a military medical facility are transitioned into VA care, where needed, in a relatively efficient manner.

It is my belief that it is our elderly veterans who are being adversly affected by the “wait lists”. Sort of like a “death panel” at the VA. Someone makes a determination that treating the 89 year old Korean War vet is not worth the time and effort as his/her days are numbered, so we put them on a “wait list” and let them die.

It would be nice to know the demographics of VA hospital usage by era, and which era those who died waiting for an appointment served. I have scoured the VA website, but couldn’t find any demographic data.

GAlpha10 on May 22, 2014 at 10:57 AM

The Kaiser system in CA used to be horrible, a top-down system that rivaled the VA for inefficiencies. They changed. But the only reason they changed is because of competition. They were afraid of losing patients.

The VA needs competition: give the vets an insurance card and let them go where they like the treatment!!

Even DOCTOR Jill Biden can’t save this monstrosity.

PattyJ on May 22, 2014 at 10:58 AM

Yes, but, until he goes under the bus, Ric Shinseki is doing a heckuva job and it’s Bush’s fault.

formwiz on May 22, 2014 at 11:01 AM

Boehner needs to set up a special committee NOW. Allowing people to investigate themselves is just stupid.

Cindy Munford on May 22, 2014 at 11:01 AM

The liberal / progressive / socialist / Dem way to “prove” that you really, really care about a certain problem is to show how much money you have thrown at it. That’s what Obammy did yesterday at his whine-fest. Even the accused, aggrieved, mad-as-hell President talked about how it couldn’t possibly be a funding problem.

As far as the leadership question, one website yesterday pointed out that…

Video: Angry man not quite angry enough to hold anyone accountable for VA fiasco

…the “leader” in question who had precisely zero executive experience before becoming leader of the free world, really actually doesn’t understand how to lead. It seems he doesn’t understand why leadership matters – if it’s funded, what’s the problem? Can’t y’all see how much I care? Dude literally couldn’t run a Pizza Hut if he had to.

Soon, someone will say that the emperor has no clothes, and all the rest of the peons will figure what’s been missing for six years.

He. can’t. lead. “Period.”

DublOh7 on May 22, 2014 at 11:02 AM

You know what? I changed my mind. This isn’t about the inevitable crumminess of government run programs, but a failure of the media. A failure to report on this sooner so Obama can learn about it during his morning paper and coffee so he can get hopping mad.

NotCoach on May 22, 2014 at 11:03 AM

Well lets see. Obama campaigned on fixing the VA back in 2007 right after he swore to Allah that he was going to close Guantanamo Bay but before he promised us we could keep our doctors and health plans if we wanted to.

You do the math.

HotAirian on May 22, 2014 at 11:06 AM

Why yes he did but the dems don’t want to let facts get in their way of their tirade

cmsinaz on May 22, 2014 at 11:06 AM

GAlpha10 on May 22, 2014 at 10:57 AM

I was thinking along the lines of the advanced care that wounded vets get now which was unavailable before such as the prosthesis’ which are light years ahead of the apparatus which amputees used to receive.

But yeah, I would suppose the VA is shuffling the older vets down the priority ladder because they aren’t as visible as the soldiers coming back from the mideast.

Bishop on May 22, 2014 at 11:09 AM

Is the VA scandal a funding issue, or a leadership failure?

What difference, at this point, does it make? And your question was answered yesterday. Obama is just now finding out about this, and has promised to get to the bottom of it.

BobMbx on May 22, 2014 at 11:13 AM

Congress must be running out of people to put on these special investigations.

crankyoldlady on May 22, 2014 at 11:14 AM

Soon, someone will say that the emperor has no clothes, and all the rest of the peons will figure what’s been missing for six years.

He. can’t. lead. “Period.”

DublOh7 on May 22, 2014 at 11:02 AM

So which large corporation may be considering offering “Former President Obama” a job as CEO or Chairman of the Board?

Bueller? Bueller?

BobMbx on May 22, 2014 at 11:15 AM

Duh…when Fox and HA even allow the “funding” to be considered an issue, even if it’s downed…Pelosi wins.

Schadenfreude on May 22, 2014 at 11:17 AM

Is the VA scandal a funding issue, or a leadership failure?

There is no evidence that it isn’t both.

The WH Occupant had no administrative experience when elected (twice) and has demonstrated no leadership skills whatsoever.

Additionally, (forgive me, but my memory may have failed me) I can’t recall an instance where the Fiscal Budget, when offered by the WH, was passed by the legislature. In fact, I recall there were some that received no ‘aye’ votes.

The Obama administration redefines ‘failure’ with every step they take.

socalcon on May 22, 2014 at 11:19 AM

Government is greedy, and the Democratics love BIG government. They will never pass on an opportunity to suck more money out of the citizens. VA not working? Mo Money!

This is the same game that has been played in K-12 for decades. Failing schools? Mo Money!

slickwillie2001 on May 22, 2014 at 11:20 AM

On second thought: It’s not a funding ‘thing’

socalcon on May 22, 2014 at 11:25 AM

I just heard on the radio this morning that the IRS is questioning the American Legion posts about their tax exempt status.

First time the IRS has questioned the AL since they were set up by act of Congress in 1919?.

Couldn’t possibly be because they have been very vocal about the VA scandal unfolding, now could it?

Again, the dogeater sics the IRS on his opposition!!!

txdoc on May 22, 2014 at 11:27 AM

Not that I am a Shinseki fan, but I think calling the General “Ric” is a sign of disrespect. It annoys me that the CIC calls people by their first name when in an official capacity. I was raised to add Mr., Mrs. or a tilted and the person’s last name as a sign of respect. Maybe it’s me, just another sign of arrogance.

warmairfan on May 22, 2014 at 11:32 AM

warmairfan on May 22, 2014 at 11:32 AM

+1

And a heartfelt apology is required when the Mr./Mrs should have been a Dr./General/Senator etc.

socalcon on May 22, 2014 at 11:39 AM

Where I work in Birmingham, one doc I know is paid 100k a year for one month of hospital work at the VA. Another gets 200k for a month of work and maybe two clinics a week as well as some administrative “work”. It’s a joke and it is well known as such. It’s a rest home. The VA also has a huge research budget that these guys can tap to fund their “research”. It’s a big help in these days of flat NIH funding. The VA should be shut down, the buildings sold and the vets should get private insurance which many of them prefer; they see private docs and get the VA to pay for their meds. It’s just one vast taxpayer funded make work project.

breffnian on May 22, 2014 at 11:40 AM

warmairfan on May 22, 2014 at 11:32 AM

Yeah, but he got rid of the E to make it shorter and friendlier.

Cindy Munford on May 22, 2014 at 11:42 AM

Leadership

Problems have been investigated and known for several years.
Obama ran on VA reform in 2008.
Out come to be delayed until after the Mid-terms.
No one held responsible.

Funding

To much money, had to give it away in sweetheart no bid contracts and unearned bonus.

I don’t care pick one or more. Just once find someone responsible.

Two things that really show it to be a leadership faliure are (1) the majority of rank an file employees are hard working and dedicated. (2) the majority of the problems surfaced in the last few years when the bonus system entered the sean.

jpcpt03 on May 22, 2014 at 12:01 PM

As a commander in the military I knew that I was responsible for everything my organization and its members did or failed to do . . . Obama should be held to the same standard. It is definitely a leadership failure that rises all the way up to Obama.

rplat on May 22, 2014 at 12:02 PM

Obama acknowledged the mess the VA was in when he 1st took office and declared fixing it to be one of the cornerstones of his Presidency.

The V.A. scandal began to break, and once again he HELPED VALIDATE THE CLAIM AGAINST HIM THAT HE IS THE MOST IGNORANT, MOST UN-INFORMED, ILL-PREPARED PRESIDENT IN U.S. HISTORY!

He didn’t know his own DOJ was running guns to Mexican Drug Cartels and did not learn of like the rest of us it until it was reported in the news.

He didn’t know the NSA was sping on illegally everyone and did not learn of like the rest of us it until it was reported in the news.

He did not know Holder had ordered the illegal spying on the AP editor / reporter and their families and did not learn of like the rest of us it until it was reported in the news.

He did not know Lois Lerner and the IRS was targeting and punishing Conservitives, those he personally called his ‘political enemies’ as far back as 2010 and did not learn of like the rest of us it until it was reported in the news.

He did not know the compound in Benghazi had been attacked twice before, that the CIA immediately called it a terrorist attack and cabled their report to the State Department and WH WAR Room within the 1st 2 hours of the attack beginning, and did not learn of like the rest of us it until it was reported in the news.
– Even when he learned it was a terrorist attack he din’t KNOW it was a terrorist attack until weeks later…ATER he spoke before the U.N. and blamed that pesky video for the whole thing again.

He did not KNOW the CIA was running guns out of Benghazi the night 4 Americans died, and did not learn of like the rest of us it until it was reported in the news.

He did not know of the VA’s Secret Death Panels and their Secret Waiting List, that over 40 Vets have died waiting for treatment and did not learn of like the rest of us it until it was reported in the news.

Now that he knows, however, he is mad a heck and swears he will hold his own internal investigation to get to the bottom of this.
– Hey j@ck@$$, we already KNOW what happened/is happening, and while you play your same o’ little political B$ games more vets are dying waiting for treatment….but don’t let that stop you from appointing another one of your DONORS to ‘investigate’ this new (#6) scandal and announcing after talking to NO ONE involved that there is nothing to it, ‘not one smidgen’ of wrong-doing.

Compared to Obama, Jimmy Carter was a friggin’ GENIUS!

easyt65 on May 22, 2014 at 12:07 PM

I can tell without a shadow of a doubt it’s a GIGANTIC leadership failure. I can’t tell how I know, since this blog is monitored by the alphabet soup agencies, and it can bring financial penalties for us, but trust me on this one.

conservative hispanic on May 22, 2014 at 12:09 PM

It is a VA failure in which leadership has been absent from the scene for decades. There have been VA scandals and problems going back as far as I can remember and NOTHING has been done to actually fix the VA. At this point you can have the greatest leader on the planet in charge of the government, the cleanest most fiscally astute person ever to exist and the VA will STILL have problems because it is a government bureaucracy that, as a sidelight, provides some healthcare to to vets.

Want to ‘fix’ the problem?

Abolish the VA, take the amount it is funded at, and divide that by the number of veterans and hand out that out to them to find private care… and exempt them from Obamacare ‘mandates’ so they can find the necessary care at the lowest possible overhead cost to them.

Get rid of the VA lock, stock and two smoking barrels and the problems with it END. The vets will know how to utilize the resources better than any government agency ever will, and they have ready made private groups with which they can organize and pool their resources for their own care system if they even WANT something even that mundane.

The bureaucracy is killing people to its own benefit.

It isn’t just Obama.

It isn’t funding, as I bet if you divide the number of vets into the amount going into the VA, you get a decent amount for health care per vet.

It is what is killing all businesses in the US and stifling competition and hiking the cost of everything through the roof: bureaucracy and bureaucrats who only seek to expand the bureaucracy and not actually do their jobs. Kill the bureaucracy and give the money directly to the vets so that they can survive. I would trust the veterans to figure this out long before any change by any Congress or by any President actually goes into effect, which will be years away at this rate. Ending the systems stops the waste, fraud, abuse and cover-ups immediately.

ajacksonian on May 22, 2014 at 12:14 PM

“Nobody cares about our veterans more than Ric Shinseki,” Obama assured reporters.

As if caring were a substitute for competence.

topdog on May 22, 2014 at 12:14 PM

“Nobody cares about our veterans more than Ric Shinseki,” Obama assured reporters.

As if caring were a substitute for competence.

topdog on May 22, 2014 at 12:15 PM

conservative hispanic on May 22, 2014 at 12:09 PM

I suggest that you might want to contact a member of Congress with your proof.

Cindy Munford on May 22, 2014 at 12:17 PM

It is a funding and a leadership problem. And a failure of the model (previously stated by someone).

The funding increases provided bonuses to encourage the coverup of the problems.

There has always been problems with the VA (as a 60+ year old vet I remember stories and news from way back when).

Someone suggested vouchers so vets could go to private doctors. That won’t work either as it still leaves a single payer system and the death panels that go along with that.

By the way. What is the average wait time to get to see a doctor in a private practice?

TerryW on May 22, 2014 at 12:30 PM

Leadership failure would imply there was leadership in the first place. Obama never leads, he demagogues.

neyney on May 22, 2014 at 12:45 PM

As a commander in the military I knew that I was responsible for everything my organization and its members did or failed to do . . . Obama should be held to the same standard. It is definitely a leadership failure that rises all the way up to Obama.

rplat on May 22, 2014 at 12:02 PM

Well you plainly don’t know how this works…

When your budget increases 225% and you still can’t get your act together it is not a money problem, it is an organization problem. Changing one guy at the top is not going to fix the VA.

coolrepublica on May 22, 2014 at 10:23 AM

The guy ‘at the top’ can’t be bothered with with actually being held accountable for the organization he’s supposed to be ‘The Top’ of…I mean seriously, what’s he going to do? It’s not like he’s in charge or anything.

And we can’t possibly blame Obama. It’s not like he hired the guy or anything…

Jeeze….

BigWyo on May 22, 2014 at 1:03 PM

What if it turns out there are no dead Vets because of long wait times?
What if it turns out that the appointment software is limited to 30 days out for follow-ups to reduce wait times, (per idiotic bureaucratic edict) so if a doctor wants to schedule a follow-up on purpose after that, like a yearly check-up, they have no way to make an appointment that far out? So the second set of books is for that purpose?
Would anybody believe it? Nah.

Allahs vulva on May 22, 2014 at 1:07 PM

Of course it’s a leadership problem. When has the Obama administration ever considered competency or incompetency an issue when hiring or firing or promoting any individual? It’s not how good you are in your job that’s important, it’s how loyal you are to the administration. As long as you fit into the faculty lounge scene what could possibly be wrong in having you hang around centers of power?

Fred 2 on May 22, 2014 at 1:19 PM

Allahs vulva on May 22, 2014 at 1:07 PM

If there is a software problem that keeps patients from being treated correctly, wouldn’t new software be in order? Do you think it would cost more than the curtains?

Cindy Munford on May 22, 2014 at 1:24 PM

Obama said Wednesday that he doesn’t want the matter to become “another political football,” and that’s understandable.

A Trifecta of crap here. First, you focus, in the middle of dying vets who can’t get care promised to them, on this? You’re yammering about politics now. That is pretty low. Second, this from President Political Football himself, the one who makes ALL things political including his own mothers’s death.
Third, Dana Milbank is an apologist extraordinaire for King Joffre, I mean Obama. In short, Dana, we have more important issues at hand, like DEATH, to worry about, not a political football.

LetsBfrank on May 22, 2014 at 1:49 PM

Why is President Passive talking about reports and not using Air Force One to get some vets to other hospitals ASAP?

How many more have died since he decided he was mad?

Presidents doesn’t have the LUXURY of being wee weed up. Obama should be working on a triage plan this very minute.

LetsBfrank on May 22, 2014 at 1:55 PM

I noticed he didn’t encourage any whistleblowers to come forward, he should have been guaranteeing them protection if they do.

Sven on May 22, 2014 at 2:58 PM

Duh…when Fox and HA even allow the “funding” to be considered an issue, even if it’s downed…Pelosi wins.

Schadenfreude on May 22, 2014 at 11:17 AM

Yup. The left is already succeeding at laying the groundwork for placing the blame on “GOP obstructionism due to pandering to the Tea Party fanatics”. All the GOP Establishment needs to do now is trot out McCain to rage about how ashamed he is of his own party for denying the funds to take proper care of our veterans just to try to appease the “wacko-bird coalition”, and it will be set in stone.

Gator Country on May 22, 2014 at 3:34 PM

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