Give Barack Obama his due. He said he wanted to bring unity and bipartisanship to Washington DC … and he succeeded beyond his wild dreams with a hare-brained scheme to charge wounded vets for their service-related injuries. After taking fire from all sides, the Obama administration finally hit full retreat:
The White House on Wednesday backed off a controversial plan that would have dramatically altered the way the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) handles insurance claims, after veterans groups staged an all-out fight against such a proposal.
President Obama will not pursue a proposal that would have allowed the VA to charge private insurance companies for the treatment of veterans with service- and war-related injuries. The proposal raised the ire of prominent Democrats on the House and Senate Veterans Affairs panels. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was the first to publicly announce Wednesday afternoon that the president won’t pursue such proposal.
For a second time in a week, representatives from prominent veterans’ organization went to the White House on Wednesday to meet with the White House chief-of-staff on VA budget issues. On Monday, they met with the president, but that meeting led to a public outcry over what veterans perceived as a move by the president to still consider the proposal despite opposition.
I guess no one at the White House could answer Jon Stewart’s question of “What the %^&* were you guys thinking?” The correct answer was, “We weren’t,” but that’s apparently the same answer they’re using on the AIG bailout and couldn’t risk overdoing it. Instead, they’ll flush it down the memory hole.
Jim Geraghty and I discussed this on today’s show, and Jim made a good point. Certainly we know we’ll disagree on policy with a Democratic President and a Democratic Congress, but that comes from having differing philosophies on governance, economics, and freedom. We can differ on that without assigning malicious motives to political opponents. However, the idea of raising revenues by reneging on our commitment to wounded veterans goes beyond that to a point where you have to question how the person who proposes this can sleep at night. And the truth of that can be seen by the unanimous, loud, and angry criticism directed to Obama, Rahm Emanuel, and General Eric Shinseki from just about everyone who heard about the proposal.
So yes, they’ve pulled the proposal, but it took two meetings at the White House with veterans groups to get the point to sink in. Either this administration has a problem with its intelligence or with its soul.
Update: Nancy Pelosi’s spinning like a top:
“President Obama listened to the genuine concerns expressed by the veteran service organizations regarding the option of billing service-connected injuries to veterans’ insurance companies,” said Pelosi. “Based on the respect President Obama has for veterans and the principle concerns of our veteran leaders, the president made the decision that combat wounds should not be billed through their insurance policies.”
If he respected veterans, he wouldn’t have proposed it in the first place. All this shows is that Obama “respects” the potential for fumbling away any hope of re-election.