Barack Obama

President Obama Angry About VA Scandal, Deputy Undersecretary Resigns, Business As Usual

More anger than accountability

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This Sunday on Face the Nation, White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough told CBS's Major Garrett that President Obama was "madder than hell" about the recent scandal at the Department of Veterans' Affairs (VA).

The comments followed a hearing at the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee last Thursday where VA Secretary Eric Shinseki faced questions about long waits at VA medical facilities and the cover-up surrounding those long waits. Shinseki, too, told the committee he was "mad as hell" about the problem, but he said he would remain in office as long as he had the president's support. This weekend, after the McDonough interview was taped but before it aired, Robert Petzel, an undersecretary for health at the VA, resigned.

Writing for FoxNews.com, Concerned Veterans for America's Pete Hegseth took issue with Shinseki describing the VA's healthcare system as a "good system," calling it the "second biggest lie of the year":

The totality of the Secretary's remarks before the committee Thursday were not only deceptive, they were detached, defensive, and unbefitting a leader who, by now, should be fighting mad about the scandals engulfing VA, firing those responsible, and fundamentally challenging every assumption he has about the manner in which care is provided to our veterans.  

Instead, Shinseki played the role of aloof bureaucrat, reading dispassionately from his prepared remarks in a monotone voice, as if this was a run-of-the-mill budget hearing. Shinseki's comments were spot on in that respect—a perfect personification of VA's indifferent and unaccountable bureaucracy. The VA's recent round of troubles began last month with allegations that as many as 40 patients may have died while on (secret) waiting lists at a veterans hospital in Phoenix, allegations that led to three executives being placed on indefinite leave. Since then, six more VA hospitals were accused of similar mismanagement  problems, the most recent being the veterans hospital in Albuquerque, where The Daily Beast reported that a whistleblower accused officials at the hospital of destroying records to hide their malfeasance.

However, although the latest allegations began in the last month, the Obama Administration may have been warned about the problem as early as during the 2008 transition, when VA officials told the Obama team not to trust wait times reported by VA hospitals. "This is not only a data integrity issue in which [Veterans Health Administration] reports unreliable performance data; it affects quality of care by delaying—and potentially denying—deserving veterans timely care," the officials wrote in a memo obtained by the Times.

Concerned Veterans for America, meanwhile, has been warning about the ineffective VA healthcare system and what it meant for attempts at creating a broader federal healthcare system well before this latest news.

The Washington Post's Dana Milibank, among others, has called for Shinseki's resignation, in part because of the VA secretary's "maddeningly passive response" at last week's hearings. Shinseki's apparent job security despite the scandal is not new for this administration, but it may not last forever either. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, for example, eventually resigned over the botched Obamacare rollout, but it wasn't until months after the disaster had unfolded. The recent revelations about mismanagement at veterans hospitals contradict President Obama's claim that care for veterans was a top priority in his first and second term in office, and even a hypothetical resignation by Secretary Shinseki may not be enough to paper over that contradiction.

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  1. Why, he’s so angry, he’ll tell his press agent to say so!

  2. “President Obama was “madder than hell” about the recent scandal at the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA).”

    Because over the course of the last 6 years, he’s never before once asked how things were going over there @ the VA. This is all a shock and surprise to him.

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  4. Don’t go too far out on that limb, BHO. We all know how dangerous it is to take a stance on controversial topics like the neglect of veterans.

    (and be sure to ignore the fact that the VA is the purest form of nationalized healthcare in the US)

  5. For any veterans that have to deal with this atrocious organization this is no surprise.

    My personal information is probably available online thanks to stellar VA employees and their willful disregard for data security.

    Luckily, I didn’t contract MRSA the time I foolishly agreed to let VA doctors perform surgery.

    These reasons explain my urge to backhand bootlicking assclowns and OFA volunteers.

    1. We just buried a cousin who was dependent upon the VA for his health care.

      He waited months between appointments for a heart problem and then died with an abscess on his heart that burst.

      1. My condolences.

  6. Nice to know, sort of, what happened to my latest consult to the pain clinic. The one before that they did let me know I was on a ‘special waiting list’ before I would be accepted. Whatever. It’s a good thing that vet’s are a lot less volatile than civilians, otherwise there would be damn fewer facilities around. [Me? I just keep killing myself. Level 10 pain does that to a guy. I’ll get it right yet.]

    1. Bless you Brother.

      But don’t let them allow you to kill yourself. Get help if you are taking too many pills.

      Seriously. Don’t let them drive you to an early death because you have to self medicate. If you do then you have let them win.

  7. My one big complaint was with the WilkesBarre VA which is a 90mile round trip from my house. I had a supposed scheduled appointment, arrived at 9AM, sat in the waiting room for hours took a 4-5 minute rest room break, returned to the waiting room for my name to be called. At 4PM the attending physicians/ nurses closed up shop for the day. On inquiry of why I was not called, I was told that they probably called me and I did not show. I was infuriated at that response and gave them my (retired VA ID) card and said that I would never return to the WilkesBarre VA. I spend a lot of time in NYC and have had nothing but praise for the concerned care/ treatment I have received there over a 12 year period at the facility on 23st and 1st (Manhattan). I am a 30 year service, retired navy enlisted and have always been treated with friendliness, courtesy and promptness.

  8. Because Veterans are principled, committed, have proven ability and are fearless they are a threat to liberal progressives and fall under the ideological cleansing policy of the Democrat party. Veterans will be eradicated through neglect by the V.A., subdued by discrimination and vilification or executed in the streets. Veterans, the country we fought for and many died for is plotting our demise! We have to take back our future. The enemy is moving fast to secure their stranglehold on our future. What more can we lose but our lives if we don’t wake up!!

  9. The Government Almighty Giveth, and the Government Almighty Taketh Away, Blessed Be the Name of the Government Almighty?
    Scienfoology Song? GAWD = Government Almighty’s Wrath Delivers

    Government loves me, This I know,
    For the Government tells me so,
    Little ones to GAWD belong,
    We are weak, but GAWD is strong!
    Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
    Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
    Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
    My Nannies tell me so!

    GAWD does love me, yes indeed,
    Keeps me safe, and gives me feed,
    Shelters me from bad drugs and weed,
    And gives me all that I might need!
    Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
    Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
    Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
    My Nannies tell me so!

    DEA, CIA, KGB,
    Our protectors, they will be,
    FBI, TSA, and FDA,
    With us, astride us, in every way!
    Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
    Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
    Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
    My Nannies tell me so!

  10. Question: why don’t we voucherize VA and allow vets to purchase insurance that way? Sure, the vouchers would be expensive, but the consumer choice would improve service, and we’re paying the bill no matter what. I’d rather overpay on that end and make sure they get gold level treatment that is close by rather than not give them the choice of getting out of bad service.

    And maybe keep some specialized hospitals for brain trauma, etc. open.

    1. Because then some useless bureaucrats would lose their cushy jobs. Can’t have that.

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