By Jon Dougherty
We are continually amazed at how tone-deaf freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) is when it comes to the issues of the day and wonder a) if she has anyone on her staff who is versed in them; and b) if not, why not?
Because she really needs someone who is; she would avoid a great many faux pas if she did.
Take her latest comments on the scandal-ridden Veterans Administration; she claims it “ain’t broke” so we ought not to be fixin’ it.
At a town hall event in New York last week, she actually argued that the system provides the “highest quality of care” to veterans and that any plans to fix it are nefariously designed to maximize profits, not assist veterans.
Even though the VA is a government-run healthcare system.
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” Ocasio-Cortez said at a New York City town hall last week. “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 you don’t even recognize it anymore.”
“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” she continued. “They’re trying to fix the VA for pharmaceutical companies, they’re trying to fix the VA for insurance corporations, and ultimately they’re trying to fix the VA for a for-profit healthcare industry that does not put people or veterans first.”
“We have a responsibility to protect it because if it is any community that deserves Cadillac first-class health care in the United States of America it is our military service members,” she said.
Well, as a vet myself, I have to thank Ocasio-Cortez for the acknowledgment that our vets deserve the finest healthcare available. But I would argue that so do all Americans. And getting to that end would require a whole lot less government involvement — something she vehemently opposes with her “Medicare-for-all” support.
But anyway, as for the VA, the organization has struggled throughout its existence to provide care for veterans, a situation that is always made worse during wartime — and always for the same reason: Chronic underfunding.
It’s not that the VA hires scallywags, scoundrels, and second-rate healthcare providers who can’t find work anywhere else. It’s that like every other government program it suffers from “only so much money to go around” syndrome, and when the number of Americans who require care rises — but the VA’s budget doesn’t increase accordingly — shortcuts have to be taken, care is denied, and scandals happen.
As for Ocasio-Cortez’s outright ignorance of the VA’s history, the Washington Free Beacon reports:
The failures of the VA system became headline news in 2014 when at least 40 veterans died due to delays in care, and whistleblowers revealed that agency officials were destroying evidence to hide the long wait times veterans faced.
Reforming the system became a priority for lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. Bipartisan legislation to revamp the system was signed by President Trump last year after it overwhelmingly passed through Congress. The vote was 347 for to 70 against in the House and 92 for to 5 against in the Senate.
Another piece of bipartisan legislation designed to accelerate the disciplinary process for employees found guilty of misconduct was passed and signed into law in 2017.
So in other words, parts of the VA certainly are ‘broke’ and need some fixin’. Thank goodness the VA is a priority of POTUS Trump’s.
- Follow Jon Dougherty on Twitter at @JonDougherty10