Saturday, May 24, 2014

Pelosi Blames Bush For VA Scandal, But Obama Knew In 2008

May 24, 2014 - It was sadly predictable: Some Democrats are blaming former President George W. Bush for the scandal currently rocking the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Nancy Pelosi, Obama's Propaganda Minister
Propaganda Minister Nancy Pelosi
"At least 40 U.S. veterans died waiting for appointments at the Phoenix Veterans Affairs Health Care system, many of whom were placed on a secret waiting list," CNN reported on April 30. "The secret list was part of an elaborate scheme designed by Veterans Affairs managers in Phoenix who were trying to hide that 1,400 to 1,600 sick veterans were forced to wait months to see a doctor, according to a recently retired top VA doctor and several high-level sources."

Most notable among the blame-Bush Dems is Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif).  The Washington Examiner notes that Pelosi did not actually blame Bush by naming him, "but she alluded to him early and often in the press briefing."

"Maybe when we go into war, we should be thinking about its consequences and its ramifications," Pelosi said while discussing the scandal. "You would think that would be a given, but maybe it wasn't. And so, we go in a war in Afghanistan, leave Afghanistan for Iraq with unfinished business in Afghanistan. Ten years later, we have all of these additional veterans. In the past five years, two million more veterans needing benefits from the VA. That's a huge, huge increase."

Pelosi's statement is bizarre for a number of reasons. Yes, there are obviously "additional veterans" in the system because of Afghanistan and Iraq. However, it's not as though they all hit the system at once. Pelosi said herself that it took ten years (referring to the March, 2003 invasion of Iraq).

But veterans were being added to the system well before then. Has Pelosi forgotten the first time we invaded Iraq, during the First Persian Gulf War in 1991? Veterans of that war need to be counted among today's men and women in need of services from the VA, too. Does Pelosi believe that the VA and Congress were incapable of anticipating an increased need for VA services for 23 years? Indeed, the VA has a long history of problems.

Pelosi's attempt to shunt the blame onto Bush is especially wicked in light of a report that says the Obama administration was advised in 2008 that the Veteran Affairs Department was creating bogus wait times for veterans’ medical treatment. In other words, whether or not Bush knew anything about the VA's problems (which he probably did, just like presidents before him), the fact remains that Obama and his upper echelon also knew years ago and did nothing about it.

President Barack Obama’s transition team was even informed in one VA audit that the delays were 10 times worse than the department would actually admit to at the time.

 German Lopez gives us an excellent explanation of the growing VA scandal at
It's important to emphasize that everything at the Phoenix facility is, for now, a series of allegations. It's not confirmed that 40 veterans died as a result of shoddy practices. The investigations will find out whether that's really what happened. With that caveat out of the way, here's what we know so far: CNN reported that a secret wait list may have contributed to the deaths of 40 veterans and delays for as many as 1,400 to 1,600 sick veterans.
The Washington Times reported on May 21 that documents obtained under a Freedom of Information Act request "show the problem extended back to at least the middle of the Bush administration but remained unresolved when Mr. Obama won election in 2008, and the VA was unable to say this week whether it ever took any steps to correct the problems." The documents indicate that the Veterans Affairs inspector general told Obama's transition team about major problems with wait times and scheduling as far back as 2005. "One of those audits," the Washington Times said, "showed an instance in which the department reported 2,900 veterans waited more than a month for medical appointments. The actual figure was closer to 28,000 veterans, according to the auditors."

When Obama's people were told about this problem nearly six years ago, was George Bush supposed to return to the White House to correct the problem? The problem, passed on to Obama in 2008, was ignored by Obama until 2014. Had the Phoenix VA facility scandal not broken, Obama would still be ignoring it. Obama is paying attention finally to the VA problems, and pretending to care about, only because of the heated media coverage and resulting public outcry.

The scandal is much bigger than the Phoenix facility, of course. It's nationwide, and for reasons that have more to do with Congress than with President George W. Bush. Additional reasons include a demand for care that's higher than the number of doctors at the VA; confusing scheduling policies; minimal federal oversight of local VA medical facilities that has, as Lopez writes, "allowed some hospitals and clinics to get away with shoddy, sometimes nefarious scheduling practices that left sick veterans waiting for necessary health care — and sometimes dying as a result, and funding problems." None of those factors — none of them — can be blamed on Pres. Bush. They are caused by the fog of bureaucracy and apathy in both houses of Congress more than by any single president.

Nobody should be surprised by the recent revelations of mismanagement and dishonesty within the VA. It is, after all, a government operation. The VA's reputation has been less than sterling for decades. I remember my father complaining about the VA over 50 years ago. A World War II veteran, he would curse the large VA hospital in Madison, Wisconsin whenever we'd drive past it. He knew — and millions of other Americans knew — that the VA was not providing the best medical care possible and that veterans were regularly jacked around while trying to get needed care. Americans have known about this problem for years, including Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama.
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