79% of WaPo/ABC poll respondents hold Obama personally responsible for VA scandal

posted at 4:01 pm on June 3, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

This, of course, depends on how one looks at the data from the Washington Post/ABC poll I linked earlier today. The data on public perception of the VA scandal didn’t get much attention from the Post, but Business Insider’s Colin Campbell took a closer look at it and noted that the data on this looks overwhelmingly bad for Barack Obama. Eight in ten respondents assign at least some personal responsibility to Obama for the massive and systemic wait-list fraud that killed dozens of vets who couldn’t access medical care in Phoenix:

A new poll shows about 80% of Americans think President Barack Obama is “personally” responsible for at least some of the issues with the medical care provided to former soldiers by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The Washington Post-ABC News poll, released Tuesday, found 38% of respondents viewed Obama responsible for a “good” or “great” amount of the VA’s woes; another 41% said Obama was responsible for “just some” of the controversy. That makes for 79% of voters who lay at least some of the blame for the scandal with the president.

Soon-to-be Hot Air associate editor Noah Rothman uses the same calculation at Mediaite:

Given that this poll of adults has a 3.5 percent margin of error, it is conceivable that every American thinks this scandal is a real and urgent problem. The opinion that the scandal is “serious” is shared by more than 95 percent of almost every critical subgroup; Republicans, Democrats, independents, liberals, conservatives, moderates, women, men, minorities, young people – everyone.

What’s more, this poll suggests that the administration has not escaped culpability for the scandal. 65 percent of respondents said they believed former VA Sec. Eric Shinseki “was right to resign” over the allegations. While 41 percent say President Barack Obama deserves only “some” blame for the scandal, 79 percent agree that Obama shares fault for the fiasco at the VA. Only 20 percent believe Obama deserves no blame for the failure of oversight at an expanding list of VA hospitals.

Anyone who thinks the political operatives in the White House are not terrified by those numbers is kidding themselves.

The Post’s news report on the poll calculates this differently, although agreeing with Campbell’s math on the seriousness of the scandal:

The VA scandal, in contrast, shows no partisan differences and reflects growing public outrage at reports of lengthy delays for treatment and falsification of records at some veterans’ facilities around the country. The new poll finds a near-unanimous verdict, with 97 percent of Americans describing the problems as serious and 82 percent calling them “very serious.”

The White House has scrambled to get on top of the situation and so far the public appears to put the responsibility for the problems elsewhere than with the president. About four in 10 Americans say the president deserves significant blame for the problems that have mushroomed into a major debacle for his administration, while six in 10 say he personally deserves just some or none of the blame.

The difference here is what constitutes the threshold for assigning personal blame to the President. The question is asked in a traditional all-most-some-none polling format, and traditionally that gets aggregated with all-most/some-none. That’s the calculation used by the Post to get a 38/60 rating. That’s a defensible, if not convincing, conclusion to draw on the political impact of the scandal on Obama personally. And I’d bet that the political operatives Noah mentions are grasping at this analysis with both hands and perhaps a leg or two as well.

However, 41% think Obama bears some personal responsibility for the scandal, while only 20% think Obama bears none at all. That’s not difficult to understand either, since Obama made a big deal about reforming the VA in his first presidential campaign and took credit for success at the VA later — success that was largely illusory. Claiming that 60% shrug off Obama’s personal responsibility for that failure misreads what “some” means in a literal as well as political sense. Clearly, among 79% of respondents, Obama does not escape personal responsibility for the VA’s failures and scandals, although it’s far from settled how badly that will damage him in the long run. Nor is that the real issue at hand at the VA, either, but the Post/ABC poll survey makes it one of the issues.

The real issue for the VA is the quality of care, and wait times are a critical component of that measure — but not the only one. The Wall Street Journal obtained internal documentation from the VA showing a wide disparity in outcomes across their centrally-managed single-payer system, with the death rate in Phoenix one of the worst:

But a detailed tabulation of outcomes at a dozen VA hospitals made available to The Wall Street Journal illustrates a deeper challenge: vastly disparate treatment results and what some VA doctors contend is the slippage of quality in recent years at some VA facilities.

Some of the discrepancies are stark, especially for an agency known for offering high-quality care in 50 states.

The rate of potentially lethal bloodstream infections from central-intravenous lines was more than 11 times as high among patients at the Phoenix facility than it was at top VA hospitals, data from the year ended March 31, 2014, show.

Those infections, called sepsis, can quickly cause multiple organ failure and kill an otherwise relatively healthy patient within days or even hours. The data don’t show what percentage of patients died as a result.

Among patients admitted to the hospital for acute care, the Phoenix VA Health Care System had a 32% higher 30-day death rate than did the top-performing VA hospitals, a finding flagged as statistically significant by the agency’s medical analysts.

By contrast, Boston’s VA hospital, considered among the system’s best, had a central-IV-line, bloodstream-infection rate that was 63% below the average of the top-performing hospitals. It also had a slightly better-than-average, 30-day mortality rate for acute care.

The VA responded that these metrics were intended only for internal review, not for “public consumption.” That raises even more questions. How long did VA executives know that Phoenix and other locations were so far below standard? Why did this not prompt an investigation? Did the long wait times contribute to the death rate?

Another question will be whether the VA disclosed this information to Congress. The WSJ report doesn’t mention that, but notes that the data came from a non-public system called SAIL. One has to assume that the relevant Congressional committees funded SAIL and knew its purpose. Did they request data from it to determine VA performance?

There are a lot more questions about the VA and its performance than Obama’s political damage and wait-list fraud. And there may be more people who need to provide answers than just those in the executive branch, too.

Update: Investors’ IBD-TIPP poll produces even worse results for Obama:

Just 29% think President Obama has done a good job managing the VA in the wake of the department’s patient-care scandal, according to the latest IBD/TIPP poll. 43% surveyed say he’s done a poor job and 22% rate his performance as only average.

Meanwhile, 63% say Obama was either disengaged (29%) or that he “knows more than he claims” (34%) about the scandal.

The White House has insisted Obama had only heard about the scandal — which involved chronic delays in care for veterans using the system, and attempts at several VA hospitals to cover up those delays — after it was reported in the press. However, news accounts and audits of chronic delays and suspicious bookkeeping date back years.

The public also overwhelmingly rejects the notion that money was the chief reason for the VA scandal.

Fully 70% of those surveyed in the June poll say poor management of available resources was the main problem at the VA; just 20% believe it was lack of money. These views hold true across the entire demographic and ideological range surveyed in the poll.

And yet …

The IBD/TIPP poll shows that the VA scandal has so far not hurt Obama’s overall approval ratings.

In fact, Obama’s job approval climbed slightly, rising from 42% in May to 44% in June. And 43% give him good marks on his overall performance, up from 38% in May.

Shinseki’s resignation may have taken the edge off the impact for Obama, but this could get ugly if more scandals arise.

Update: Glenn Reynolds puts the blame where it rightly belongs:

People sometimes think that government or “nonprofit” operations will be run more honestly than for-profit businesses because the businesses operate on the basis of “greed.” But, in fact, greed is a human characteristic that is present in any organization made up of humans. It’s all about incentives.

And, ironically, a for-profit medical system might actually offer employees less room for greed than a government system. That’s because VA patients were stuck with the VA. If wait times were long, they just had to wait, or do without care. In a free-market system, a provider whose wait times were too long would lose business, and even if the employees faked up the wait-time numbers, that loss of business would show up on the bottom line. That would lead top managers to act, or lose their jobs.

In the VA system, however, the losses didn’t show up on the bottom line because, well, there isn’t one. Instead, the losses were diffused among the many patients who went without care — visible to them, but not to the people who ran the agency, who relied on the cooked-books numbers from their bonus-seeking underlings.

And, contrary to what Klein suggests, that’s the problem with socialism. The absence of a bottom line doesn’t reduce greed and self-dealing — it removes a constraint on greed and self-dealing. And when that happens, ordinary people pay the price. Keep that in mind, when people suggest that free-market systems are somehow morally inferior to socialism.

In a single-payer system run by the government, there are no regulators or competitive forces around to keep anyone honest. It’s not even greed as much as it is the ancient issue of power and corruption.


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None of that antiquated “the buck stops here!” with this president.

vityas on June 3, 2014 at 4:04 PM

Wow. People might finally be sick of his crap.

Chuck Schick on June 3, 2014 at 4:06 PM

No wonder Talibama wanted to change the subject with the whole Taliban all-star team swap for the anti-American deserter and Cult of Islam disciple.

VA Scandal gently swept and now slumbers all nice and cozy under Talibama’s prayer rug.

Meople on June 3, 2014 at 4:07 PM

79% of WaPo/ABC poll respondents hold Obama personally responsible for VA scandal

And now we know why this ridiculous prisoner swap happened.

Doomberg on June 3, 2014 at 4:07 PM

Shows how much media corruption influences these things. The VA scandal — and certainly the deserter-for-terrorists swap scandal — were too big for the obamamedia to cover up — so they had to actually kinda cover them. When this White House is covered with the tiniest shred of honesty, zero tanks. If he were a GOP prez with these scandals, the coverage would, of course, have been much more intense and he’d be sitting at a 20% approval rating and taking 100% of the blame for the scandals.

Rational Thought on June 3, 2014 at 4:09 PM

The Obama doctrine for dealing with scandals and screw ups is to move into a bigger scandal and screw up to take the heat off of the previous scandal and screw up.

If Obama was on the other side of the negotiation table with me he would be lucky to walk away with tighty whities. What is wrong with the republican leadership? Could it be they are as big a traitors as Bergdahl?

jukin3 on June 3, 2014 at 4:15 PM

I doubt if the VA ever crossed his lazy mind until the ____ hit the fan.

docflash on June 3, 2014 at 4:16 PM

People are finally becoming aware of the fact that the mess of tangled metal in front of their eyes is actually a train wreck and Obama was the engineer on duty!!

Deano1952 on June 3, 2014 at 4:17 PM

jukin3 on June 3, 2014 at 4:15 PM I have almost lost track of all the scandals they are just piling up like I’ve never seen.

sorrowen on June 3, 2014 at 4:18 PM

What is wrong with the republican leadership? Could it be they are as big a traitors as Bergdahl?

jukin3 on June 3, 2014 at 4:15 PM

The GOP is either sackless and scared to death of Talibama. Or they are secretly A-OK with what Talibama is doing.

Either way, the fact is that we have NO opposition party in this nation right now. And are living under our first American Dictator.

Meople on June 3, 2014 at 4:19 PM

If Obama was on the other side of the negotiation table with me he would be lucky to walk away with tighty whities. What is wrong with the republican leadership? Could it be they are as big a traitors as Bergdahl?

jukin3 on June 3, 2014 at 4:15 PM

Yes. The way they’ve behaved towards their own base is confirmation enough. The Republicans are essentially the UK Tories now and will cover for Obama at every opportunity.

Doomberg on June 3, 2014 at 4:23 PM

It’s 6 years in, it’s about F’ing time people started hanging his failures around his neck..

ConstantineXI on June 3, 2014 at 4:24 PM

And now we know why this ridiculous prisoner swap happened.

Doomberg on June 3, 2014 at 4:07 PM

You spelled “illegal” wrong.

Bishop on June 3, 2014 at 4:29 PM

Volkswagon Beetle, with open doors

Schadenfreude on June 3, 2014 at 4:29 PM

And now we know why this ridiculous prisoner swap happened.

Doomberg on June 3, 2014 at 4:07 PM

Yes, now we know.

Seeing 79% numbers finally blaming Hussein for his own failure clearly made them race into PANIC!!! mode. And swapping Taliban mass murderers for a deserter//traitor without checking into ANYTHING was their response.

Trading one scandal on the front page for another. I wonder what the polling will be on who the public blames for this one? I bet it’s 79% or more too…

Plus Obama has enraged the military in opposition to him…

ConstantineXI on June 3, 2014 at 4:31 PM

And yet they still blame W for the economy

About dang time…..election promises broken do have consequences

cmsinaz on June 3, 2014 at 4:33 PM

verbalduece to be along to blame republicans in 4..3..2..

HumpBot Salvation on June 3, 2014 at 4:34 PM

Don’t ignore their salaries

Schadenfreude on June 3, 2014 at 4:35 PM

Finally. An actual scandal.

libfreeordie on May 19, 2014 at 3:48 PM

Except that the D-latrinerats are awful quiet on taking credit for the Bergdahl deal. Don’t you wonder why?

Schadenfreude on June 3, 2014 at 4:36 PM

Dog Eater inherited Shinseki from himself, so yeah it’s someone else’s fault.

Bishop on June 3, 2014 at 4:37 PM

Volkswagon Beetle, with open doors, with link this time.

Schadenfreude on June 3, 2014 at 4:37 PM

How smart was it to enrage the military?

sorrowen on June 3, 2014 at 4:39 PM

And yet they still blame W for the economy

About dang time…..election promises broken do have consequences

cmsinaz on June 3, 2014 at 4:33 PM

That might start changing as well. How that Preezy Stompyfoot’s teftlon shell has developed a seam, it might all start peeling off…

The VA scandal followed immediately by the worse but in a different way Bergdahl scandal might send the Puppymuncher into the low 30′s for good.

But the GOP Establishment is just as likely to pass Amnesty next week to give him life again.

ConstantineXI on June 3, 2014 at 4:39 PM

NOW that… Damn ipad keyboard..

ConstantineXI on June 3, 2014 at 4:39 PM

I hold Obama responsible for

weakening the United States in the eyes of the world
Fast n Furious
Benghazi
IRS scandal
VA scandal
Obamacare
Releasing 5 dangerous Jihadists back into the world
ruining the economy to the point where my college educated son can’t find work in his field
sicking the EPA on coal companies destroying jobs and raising everyone’s electricity rates
foisting rabid leftist supreme court justices and judges on us
seeking to destroy the rule of law and the constitution
racial division
class warfare
trying to take our guns
lying to the American People more than he tells the truth
acting like a petty dictator and appointing other petty dictators (Eric Holder, Jay Carney, ValJar)

and so many more I can’t keep up.

I blame the RINOs for

Not holding Obama and his administration to account and acting like scared weak little babies
Waging a bigger war on the Tea Party than on the Dems

God help my country

neyney on June 3, 2014 at 4:51 PM

If it comes to presenting the argument that socialized medicine as represented by the VA can be directly associated with lower quality of care, up to and including the death of patients,there’s evidence to substantiate that back in 1990 (if not before)

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals’ infection control programs, focusing on: (1) whether VA used infection control data to prevent future infections; (2) whether VA infection control programs were adequately staffed and organized; and (3) VA infection control programs’ effectiveness compared to nonfederal hospital programs.

GAO found that: (1) VA had not updated its infection control guidance since 1979; (2) VA guidelines clearly required only 16 of 56 basic elements considered essential to infection control programs; (3) infection control practitioners in 5 of 7 VA medical centers that GAO studied took personal initiatives that exceeded VA guidance, thereby incorporating most of the 56 basic elements; (4) practitioners incorporated 12 elements less frequently than the remaining 44 elements, because the VA guidelines did not adequately address those elements; (5) VA hospitals generally incorporated 44 GAO program elements, while nonfederal hospitals generally incorporated 42; (6) VA and nonfederal hospitals’ specific practices were similar; (7) as VA guidelines required only one infection control practitioner for every 200 to 250 beds, 55 percent of VA programs were understaffed in 1987; and (8) VA regional offices inadequately monitored infection control programs in four of seven medical centers reviewed, primarily because the regional offices lacked guidance from a central, coordinating office, did not share infection control data, and did not include knowledgeable personnel in their inspection teams.

lineholder on June 3, 2014 at 4:52 PM

79% of WaPo/ABC poll respondents hold Obama personally responsible for VA scandal

…21% huh?…are lobotomies becoming prevalent again?

KOOLAID2 on June 3, 2014 at 4:56 PM

Sigh

Yup Constantine

cmsinaz on June 3, 2014 at 4:57 PM

OT: Why is Obama appearing more and more yellow in photographs? Is all the caca in his system starting to show?

neyney on June 3, 2014 at 5:01 PM

There is simply no doubt that the system-wide “problems” with obama’s VA were actually “cost-saving” measures crafted by the White House, and personally authorized by obama. Yes, obama IS personally responsible – and he must be held accountable.

Pork-Chop on June 3, 2014 at 5:02 PM

…21% huh?…are lobotomies becoming prevalent again?

KOOLAID2 on June 3, 2014 at 4:56 PM

I can’t see him dropping below 21% even if he murdered his whole family live on TV.

90% of black support (10% of the population) plus about 20% of the population that will admit it’s liberal.

His absolute floor actually is closer to 30% than 21%. This number had to scare the crap out of him. Too many more polls like that on his failures and stuff he doesn’t like might start moving through the Senate even…

ConstantineXI on June 3, 2014 at 5:03 PM

Finally, something he can’t get away with blaming on Bush?

Texas Zombie on June 3, 2014 at 5:08 PM

The IBD/TIPP poll shows that the VA scandal has so far not hurt Obama’s overall approval ratings.

In fact, Obama’s job approval climbed slightly, rising from 42% in May to 44% in June. And 43% give him good marks on his overall performance, up from 38% in May.

Who are these 40% or so of Americans who consistently approve of Obama’s performance? Are they mutants? Or just stupid? Or are they just leeches that will accept any degree of incompetence and malfeasance as long as O keeps the government cheese coming?

I’m curious, what would it take to actually get Obama’s approval rating under 40%? I mean, if Obama deserted the White House and personally defected to the Taliban, would enough people say “Okay, that’s it, I’m not defending him anymore, I’ve had it” to get his approval down to, say, 37-38%?

Hayabusa on June 3, 2014 at 5:09 PM

How can this be? Obama has been following the same scandal checklist since Fast & Furious, it ALWAYS works.

»»»

1 Disbelief – He just found out about it, usually from the newspapers.

2 Outrage – NOBODY is madder about it than Obama

3 Bargaining – Promises to “get to the bottom of it” and “hold people accountable”

4 Radio silence – Sorry, can’t comment on ongoing investigations

5 Opacity – Delays or denies documents or testimony while claiming to cooperate

6 Enlightenment – Pronounces the whole thing a “phony scandal” from the GOP

7 Nostalgia – Dude, that was like, two years ago – old news!

Adjoran on June 3, 2014 at 5:20 PM

The REAL numbers must be really bad for water-carriers like WaPo and ABC to come up with 79%.

GarandFan on June 3, 2014 at 5:21 PM

If the GOP screws up Mid Term elections this year, I am registering as an “F – You” Party member.

Odie1941 on June 3, 2014 at 5:23 PM

Hanging just one person for the mess the progressives have made of this country will not be enough.

Diluculo on June 3, 2014 at 5:24 PM

If the GOP screws up Mid Term elections this year, I am registering as an “F – You” Party member.

Odie1941 on June 3, 2014 at 5:23 PM

I registered with that party the minute I heard that famous phrase “read my lips”, and have never looked back.

Diluculo on June 3, 2014 at 5:25 PM

Yeah, 79% place responsibility for the VA incomoetence directly on O, yet his approval numbers haven’t budged from 43%. Makes me sick, nation of morons.

jimver on June 3, 2014 at 5:45 PM

Excellent, Adjoran.
I’m copying that with credit.

Closet Optimist on June 3, 2014 at 6:07 PM

WTF? It’s not Bush’s fault?

NoPain on June 3, 2014 at 6:37 PM

If Obama were a Republican, we’d be seeing these stats at the top of every news broadcast, and they’d be playing those 2007 videotapes of Obama saying what an outrage the VA abuses were (and how we owe our veterans so much better) over and over and over and over again . . . .

AZCoyote on June 3, 2014 at 6:51 PM

I have a brother who for years has been dependent on the VA for his medical care. He has probably seen it all and suffered through the incompetence and thoughtless concerns many times. He is fortunate to be as stubborn as he is. Over time he has learned what he has to say or do, or not say or do to get a doctor to see him or get what he needs, most of the time. He never stays longer than absolutely necessary in a VA hospital. He may be in pain and sick but he will tell them he feels fine and to sign him out. He figures he is safer recovering at home than in the hospital with incompetent nurses and doctors.

One of the observations he had made is that in the service the incompetent doctors end up in the VA hospitals and if they are civilian, they are usually the ones that through incompetence cannot afford the insurance or keep their license. Incompetent doctors have no real worries since they are immune from the consequences if they injure or kill someone. If they become a problem, the VA will just move them to a different area or another VA hospital so that they can start fresh with a new reputation for incompetency. So if the doo doo hits the fan, it probably will just be a reshuffle to put new faces in place of the old ones.

Waist and politics thrive in the VA. Probably no surprise there since it is government incompetence at its best. He tells me they built a new wing onto the VA he goes to. They are still trying to figure out what to use it for, but the theme of possibilities reflect the liberal left leanings.

He used to have a problem with excessively high blood pressure that they could not control with drugs. They wanted to do a test to see if he had blocked arteries of his heart. Its a ten minute procedure that nurse techs perform. I have had it done a couple of times. IV in the arm, dye under a little pressure is sent in, and they run you through a scanner and it is done. Apparently in the VA they did not have a doctor who could do it and sending him down the street to the civilian hospital was not allowed. So they put him on a care flight and sent him to Albuquerque New Mexico where a doctor with a long history of complaints for incompetency, some that had resulted in deaths, tried to do the procedure and screwed it up. Apparently after that the test was not that necessary. As usual he was then put on a commercial fight home. Fortunate for him, he had clothes because otherwise he would go on the flight in two hospital gowns and paper slippers.

He finally was able to get them to realize that he had a gallbladder problem. Took them weeks to schedule its removal. I had the same problem, but by the first I knew it was a problem, it was already dead and gangrenous. Had that been me in the VA I would be in the ground now.

Just a note to those with high uncontrollable blood pressure, both of us suffered with that, but after the gallbladder was removed, we have normal blood pressure.

Now as bad as the VA is and as bad as Obamacare will be, to get an real world view of it, go to http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/index.html. Its Great Britain medical care at its best, where if your lucky you might live and if your too old, they get a bonus if they kill you. Count the children that die for lack of care or misdiagnose by the Nurses who act as doctors because there are not enough doctors or the treatment is too expensive or uncommon. Note that if you need an abortion, breast implants or a sex change, those will be paid for with tax payer money. If you call for an ambulance, don’t look for it to arrive anytime soon and when it does, they only take you if “they” decide you need medical care at a hospital, otherwise take those aspirin and see your doctor when you can get an appointment.

Franklyn on June 3, 2014 at 6:57 PM

Well, at least Killary will be able to blame The One for her corrupt administration.

vnvet on June 3, 2014 at 7:22 PM

79% of WaPo/ABC poll respondents hold Obama personally responsible for VA scandal

O to 79%: I won. And, I’m not personally responsible for anything.

Marcola on June 3, 2014 at 7:53 PM

How can this be? Obama has been following the same scandal checklist since Fast & Furious, it ALWAYS works.

»»»

1 Disbelief – He just found out about it, usually from the newspapers.

2 Outrage – NOBODY is madder about it than Obama

3 Bargaining – Promises to “get to the bottom of it” and “hold people accountable”

4 Radio silence – Sorry, can’t comment on ongoing investigations

5 Opacity – Delays or denies documents or testimony while claiming to cooperate

6 Enlightenment – Pronounces the whole thing a “phony scandal” from the GOP

7 Nostalgia – Dude, that was like, two years ago – old news!
 
Adjoran on June 3, 2014 at 5:20 PM

 
That’s the best post I’ve seen in a while.

rogerb on June 3, 2014 at 9:04 PM

About time people woke up – how many times has Dem Obama broken the law? How many times has he claimed he didn’t know…..

People are so in the tank for him they cannot see how incompetent he is. THis is really sad but what’s worse, his behavior will eventually result in the loss of millions of lives – the world will not remain quiet once the American influence is gone. It will erupt. and it will be ugly.

MN J on June 4, 2014 at 3:19 PM