Whistleblowers from regional offices of the Veterans Benefits Administration testified before the House Veteran Affairs Committee on Monday night that the agency has been tampering with documents, manipulating records, and retaliating against employees who report problems.
Kristen Ruell, a whistleblower from a VBA regional office in Philadelphia, Pa., told the committee she received an email from an employee in triage, the location where mail is processed, telling her that clerks were setting aside incoming forms when they were not easily identifiable. Continue reading
In unprecedented criticism of the White House, 38 journalism groups have assailed the president’s team for censoring media coverage, limiting access to top officials and overall “politically-driven suppression of the news.”
In a letter to President Obama, the 38, led by the Society of Professional Journalists, said efforts by government officials to stifle or block coverage has grown for years and reached a high-point under his administration despite Obama’s 2008 campaign promise to provide transparency. Continue reading
Bureaucrats push pencils at the expense of real workers
Life is hard. It’s harder still when an entire class of people with their hands out stands between you and success.
Unfortunately, that’s increasingly the problem, all around the world. A recent New York Times piece tells the story of a Greek woman’s efforts to survive that country’s financial collapse. After losing her job, she tried to start a pastry business, only to find the regulatory environment impossible. Among other things, they wanted her to pay the business’s first two years of taxes up front, before it had taken in a cent. When the business failed, her lesson was this: “I, like thousands of others trying to start businesses, learned that I would be at the mercy of public employees who interpreted the laws so they could profit themselves.” Continue reading
Long queues are the price of free care.
President Obama evidently was caught by surprise by the scandal at the Department of Veterans Affairs.
So, apparently, was VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, who evidently took at face value the corrupt VA statistics — and who, after a distinguished military career, resigned last week.
One who was probably not taken by surprise is longtime Yale Law Professor Peter Schuck, who identified the problems at the VA before the scandal broke in his recently published book, “Why Government Fails So Often and How It Can Do Better.” Continue reading
For the left, the Department of Veterans Affairs is how health care is ideally supposed to work. No insurance companies, no private doctors, no competition — just the government and the patient.
New York Times columnist Paul Krugman has held up the VA as a model for the entire country. The Washington Monthly ran a famous article in 2005 arguing that the VA was leading the way for U.S. health care. The socialist senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders, is such a reflexive defender that in an instantly notorious interview on CNN he pooh-poohed the burgeoning scandal that may involve fatalities with the undeniable observation that “people die every day.”
The VA is an island of socialism in American health care. It generally provides adequate care — to a limited universe of people and for only certain conditions — but has long been plagued by scandal. It is perhaps the worst bureaucracy in the federal government. As with all such single-payer-type systems, the cost of the notionally free health care is in the rationing, in this case the wait times that have had desperately ill vets hung out to dry for months. Continue reading
The VA offers precisely what Obamacare offers: not a guarantee of treatment in time of need, but a guarantee of a place in line for treatment at a time of the bureaucracy’s choosing.
by Kevin O’Brien
The White House says Americans can’t draw any conclusions yet about just how screwed up is the Department of Veterans Affairs medical care system.
Well, yes, Americans can. And if they have any sense — always a debatable proposition — Americans will.
One conclusion we can draw is an old, familiar one: No matter what the issue or activity, bureaucracy’s first and strongest instinct is to protect itself in the face of a perceived threat. Continue reading