by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Michael Tanner of the Cato Institute devotes his latest National Review Online column to politicians’ assessments of problems associated with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
If you want to know how far out of touch Democrats have become, consider that Donald Trump is starting to make more sense on VA reform than Hillary Clinton.
Faced with the ongoing scandal of veterans’ health care, Hillary’s instinctive reaction was to defend the government bureaucracy. Appearing on MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show, Hillary dismissed problems with the troubled agency, declaring they have “not been as widespread as it has been made out to be.” Criticism of the VA, she maintained, was just part of the Republicans’ “ideological agenda.” In Hillaryworld, it is simply inconceivable that a government program could fail.
Hillary’s comments came just weeks after a new report from the VA’s own inspector general revealed that, if anything, the department’s problems have actually grown worse since they were first uncovered in 2010.
According to the IG, there was a backlog of some 560,000 veterans waiting for their applications to be processed as of September 2014. Another 307,000 were still on the list, though they had died while their applications were pending. That sounds pretty widespread to me.
In fact, these numbers probably understate the real problem, because, as the IG notes, the VA has failed to “ensure the consistent creation and maintenance of essential data,” which makes it impossible to know just how bad things are.