Sen. Bernie Sanders, the Vermont socialist, has been all over the media discussing the VA scandal.
However, I can’t find Mr. Sanders reflecting on his own role in the fiasco.
Last September, Sanders argued, “The VA is making progress in reducing the disability claims backlog. I meet very often with General Shinseki, (and) with (VA Under Secretary) Allison Hickey to see the progress that they are making.”
Apparently Sanders, chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, needs new glasses.
As the public and the president were discovering the depth and breadth of the scandal, the Vermont senator moved quickly to defend the VA: “The Veterans Administration provides very high-quality healthcare, period. It’s not perfect.”
“Not perfect” indeed.
Sanders also warned of “a rush to judgment,” noting emphatically, “We don’t know how many veterans died.”
As the scandal spread nationwide, the good senator . . . freaked out. “There is right now as we speak a concerted effort to undermine the VA,” he told MSNBC’s Chris Hayes.
“What are the problems?” Sanders asked himself. “The problems is . . . you have folks out there now — Koch brothers and others — who want to radically change the nature of society, and either make major cuts in all of these institutions, or maybe do away with them entirely.”
How possible future cuts might prevent the VA from getting the job done at present remains unclear.
On Thursday, Sanders blocked Senate consideration of HR 4031, which had passed the House by a whopping bi-partisan 390–33 vote. The bill would have given the VA Secretary the power to replace managers who weren’t producing for patients.
Senator, let our vets go . . . let them escape the bureaucracy to seek the care they deserve.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.