Monday, March 25, 2013

The VA backlog

John McCann is, no doubt, a caring person.  But he's also grossly uninformed.  He feels the VA is the victim of "bashing" and that it is the victim of a lack of funding.  If he knew what he was writing about instead of flaunting his addiciton to partisan spin, he might have something worth writing in a letter to the editor.  Instead he wants to portray the VA as a victim.

Maybe next time follow some Congressional hearings.  If you can't get to one, many of their broadcast on CSPAN, many are streamed online.

Maybe next time, pick up a calendar and quit being so damn stupid.

John McCann -- probably sensitive over his name -- feels Republicans are responsible for the VA backlog.

But that doesn't excuse lying and it is an outright lie to maintain that the Republicans are responsible for the VA being "reduced in personnel at the very time it needed to hire and train . . ."

Stop the lying.  And if you're not lying, just stop speaking because you are far too ignorant to speak in the public square.

I don't know if you're mainlining MSNBC or what but you're not helping anyone popularizing damn lies.

In 2006 mid-terms, the Democrats were put in charge of both houses of Congress.  Every economic request sought was met.  In addition, Democrats like Senator Patty Murray and then-US House Rep Stephanie Herseth Sandlin were among the many asking the VA at every hearing if they had what they needed.  This wasn't one hearing, this was over and over and over.

While John McCann wants to claim that the VA was a victim and unable to hire who they needed, VA officials regularly rejected more hires.  They told Bob Filner, when he was Chair of the House Veterans Affairs Committee and when he was Ranking Member of the Committee, that one of the biggest problems was these new hires.  Too many new hires would put them so far behind.

Now we questioned that in real time hre, the notion that X number of new hires meant work comes to a standstill at the VA while everyone gets trained.

But then we followed this in real time period.

John McCann clearly didn't and needs to stop talking.

He obviously feels he has much to share.  Sadly, he's only sharing how ignorant he truly on this topic.  I don't doubt that he cares but I caring doesn't always translate as factual.

Senator Jon Tester is another example of someone who repeatedly asked the VA what it needed and was repeatedly told its needs were met.

Now I've given four examples and they were all Democrats.  That's misleading because this wasn't a Democrat versus Republican issue.  Senator Richard Burr repeatedly asked what was needed and repeatedly noted that every request had been honored.

And that is the reality.

VA wasn't like most government agencies.  Congress never turned them down.

In part because those serving on the Committees want to provide veterans with what has been promised and in part because they all have veterans in their communities and, as the tale of Senator Jim Webb made clear, piss off veterans and forget about being re-elected.  (Webb did.  He played cheap with veterans lives and, in the process, ticked off veterans of today's wars and of Vietnam.  That's why he didn't seek re-election.  He already knew he couldn't win once he lost veterans.)

And when Jim Webb tried to play cheap with veterans lives, he was called out.  You can, to cite just one example, Veterans Today and search Webb there.  You'll see him called out repeatedly and loudly.   He served one term (he had a "D" after his name, having switched parties since the 80s).

It would be really great if the answer was "those evil Republicans."  Just vote them out and you have an answer!

But that's not the reason for the VA's backlogs.

Today AP quotes Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America's Tom Tarantino saying, "We're tried of waiting for the VA to get their act together."  Among veterans of today's wars, few representing organizations command as much respect as Tarantino.  He is considered one of the least partisan and one of the most honest.

IAVA has a petition calling for an end to the VA backlog, by the way.  You can sign it if you're a veteran or if you're not a veteran.  You just check off your status.

Don McKee (Marietta Daily Journal) notes that there will be one million backlog disability claims at the VA by the end of March and "according to the Bay Citizen in San Francisco, 19,500 veterans died awaiting benefits in the federal fiscal year from October 2011 to September 2012, based on retroactive benefits paid to survivors."

I'm sorry that it is not as simple as John McCann would like it to be.  The reality is that VA is more protected than anything else.  Even the Pentagon might see -- what they think are -- sharp cuts as a result of sequestration.  The VA's protected from that.  There might be administrative issues as a result of sequestration, but that's it.  (And House Veterans Affairs Committee Chair Jeff Miller and Ranking Member Mike Michaud proposed legislation last month that would smooth over even that for the VA.)

Aaron Glantz (Center for Public Integrity) reported last week:

Allison Hickey, the VA’s undersecretary for benefits, is scheduled to testify before Miller’s committee on Wednesday morning about the chronic delays encountered by veterans awaiting disability benefits. In a Capitol Hill interview with the Center for Investigative Reporting this morning, Miller cited a lack of transparency, lengthening delays and a number of veterans disability claims that the VA projects will soon pass 1 million as reasons Hickey should step down. 
“I don’t think she’s equipped to handle the problems that exist out there,” said Miller, a Florida Republican.  “I think she is overwhelmed, and I would call for a replacement.”
The call for Hickey’s resignation falls during a week of remembrance in Washington, marking the 10-year anniversary of the Iraq War.
In a statement, VA spokesman Joshua Taylor said the agency agreed that “too many veterans are waiting too long for their benefits,” but said that Hickey would stay on to implement an “aggressive plan to fix the backlog.”
Miller’s comments came a week after CIR revealed the number of veterans waiting more than a year for their disability claims had increased by more than 2,000 percent under President Barack Obama – from 11,000 in 2009 to 245,000 in December.

Hickey should be fired.  She lies repeatedly to Congress.  She can't stop lying.  Among the finest moments in the previous Congress was Bob Filner repeatedly confronting her with her lies. She's lucky Bob chose not to seek re-election (he's now Mayor of San Diego).  Now she gets to play dumb with other people -- most of whom won't call her on it.  Some like Democrat Tim Waltz will make excuses for her.

There are no excuses.  She has made promises repeatedly.  She has lied repeatedly.  She has come before Congress and given outdated figures, passed them off as contemporary figures.  If someone, for example US House Rep Jason Chaffetz confronted her, she played dumb and tried to run out the clock while insisting these were accurate figures.

Yes, they were, Allison, they were accurate figures four months before you came to testify.  They were outdated figures when you came before the Congress because to use the current figures would have forced you to admit just what a failure you were.

Bob Filner predicted Hickey would keep insisting that the matter was about to be fixed right up until she retired at which point, goodness, wouldn't you know it, the backlog never did get solved.

Easiest way to address the backlog?  Start demanding accountability. 

But it's so much easier to be John McCann, to know nothing on the topic, but just insist, possibly fueled by many hours of MSNBC, that the problem is Republican members of Congress.

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