President Trump, like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., has apparently deluded himself into believing the Department of Veterans Affairs is a smooth-running, quality agency.
At last, bipartisan agreement!
“Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is correct, the VA is not broken, it is doing great,” the president tweeted Wednesday. “But that is only because of the Trump Administration. We got Veterans Choice & Accountability passed. ‘President Trump deserves a lot of credit.’ Dan Caldwell, Concerned Veterans of America.”
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is correct, the VA is not broken, it is doing great. But that is only because of the Trump Administration. We got Veterans Choice & Accountability passed. “President Trump deserves a lot of credit.” Dan Caldwell, Concerned Veterans of America
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump)
April 24, 2019
Spoiler alert: It is not doing “great.”
As I wrote earlier this week, the Government Accountability Office flagged the VA as a “High Risk” agency this year for its continued mismanagement. This comes after the GAO awarded the VA the exact same label in both 2018 and 2017.
The “High Risk” warnings also come on the heels of a series of major scandals that rocked the agency, ranging from frivolous purchases to pill mills, to employee theft of tens of thousands of dollars, to disease outbreaks at VA facilities, to veterans being made to wait for healthcare appointments. The acting secretary even resigned in disgrace in 2014 amid the mismanagement scandals. But nothing was more shocking than the 2015 VA’s inspector general report, which claimed as many as 307,000 veterans died while awaiting medical attention. The revelations of graft, abuse, and general dysfunction were so shocking, in fact, that Congress eventually banded together to do something about it. Thankfully, the VA has improved in certain areas, and veterans are getting the care they need in certain parts of the country, but we are still a long way away from saying it is “doing great.”
Try telling that to Trump or Ocasio-Cortez, the latter of whom prompted the president’s tweet with remarks she made last week at town hall event in New York City.
“[T]here’s some things that we’re hearing today, there’s some themes we’ve got coming out, and especially when it comes to the VA, all I can think of is that classic refrain that my parents always told me growing up. Which is that, ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,’” the congresswoman said.
She added, “And — exactly, don’t fix it. And … that is their opening approach that we have seen when it comes to privatization, is the idea that this thing that isn’t broken, this thing that provides the highest quality care to our veterans somehow needs to be fixed, optimized, tinkered with, until — until we don’t even recognize it anymore.”
Keep in mind: She is not just praising the VA, which is still severely broken. She is arguing against reforming it.
“And here’s the thing, they are trying to fix it. But who are they trying to fix it for, is the question we’ve got to ask. And this is who they’re trying to fix it for. They’re trying to fix the VA for pharmaceutical companies,” Ocasio-Cortez theorized.
She added, “They’re trying to fix the VA for insurance corporations. And they’re trying to fix the VA for a for-profit healthcare industry that does not put people or veterans first. And so, we have a responsibility to protect it, because if there is any community that deserves Cadillac, first-class healthcare in the United States of America, it is our military servicemen.”
Trump and Ocasio-Cortez’s respective fan bases, sworn mortal enemies, won’t admit it, but their champions have a lot more in common than not.