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Political Vultures Circling Around Eric Shinseki, Deservedly So

Eric Shinseki

The calls for Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki to resign in the wake of the growing scandals regarding delays in care, secret waiting lists, and cover-ups at VA hospitals throughout the country are just continuing to grow:

Calls for the resignation of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki reached a fever pitch on Wednesday after the release of an explosive watchdog report that found “systemic” problems at VA facilities around the country.

Senate Democrats, who had stood unified behind Shinseki last week, began to abandon him in droves after the release of the report, with Sens. Mark Udall (Colo.), John Walsh (Mont.) and Kay Hagan (N.C.) all calling for his ouster.

“The Inspector General’s report confirms the worst of the allegations against the VA and its failure to deliver timely care to veterans. It is time for President Obama to remove Secretary Shinseki from office,” Walsh, the Senate’s lone Iraq War veteran, said in a statement.

Adding to Shinseki’s woes, two Republicans with strong ties to the military — Sen. John McCain and Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) — said it was time for new leadership at the VA.

“I haven’t said this before, but I think it’s time for Gen. Shinseki to move on,” McCain said on CNN.

The interim report from the VA’s inspector general (IG) office confirmed reports that a VA clinic in Phoenix kept a secret waiting list to hide delays in treatment.

While the clinic had claimed veterans waited an average of 24 days for care, the IG said the actual waiting time was around 115 days — a finding Shinseki called “reprehensible.”

“I have reviewed the interim report, and the findings are reprehensible to me, to this Department, and to veterans,” Shinseki said in a statement.

The IG report recommended that Shinseki ”initiate a nationwide review of veterans on wait lists to ensure that veterans are seen in an appropriate time, given their clinical condition.”

Shinseki scrambled to contain the damage, ordering the VA to “immediately triage each of the 1,700 veterans identified” by the inspector general to bring them “timely care.” He also said he has placed the leadership of the clinic on administrative leave.

Those actions did little to quiet the storm.

Hagan, who is facing a tough reelection race this year, said the “serious misconduct” revealed by the IG must be addressed by a change in leadership.

“Secretary Shinseki has served our country honorably over many decades, but in the interest of regaining the trust of our veterans, and implementing real and lasting reforms, I believe it is time for him to step aside,” Hagan said.

Democrats dealing with the VA scandal on the campaign trail also distanced themselves from Shinseki, as Rep. Bruce Braley (D-Iowa) became the fourth Democratic Senate candidate to call for a shake-up.

The White House gave no clues about whether Shinseki’s job might be at risk, though press secretary Jay Carney said President Obama has been briefed on the IG report and “found the findings extremely troubling.”

“As the president said last week, the VA must not wait for current investigations of VA operations to conclude before taking steps to improve care,” Carney said. ”It should take immediate steps to reach out to veterans who are currently waiting to schedule appointments and make sure that they are getting better access to care now.”

Late yesterday, two more Democratic Senators, Minnesota’s Al Franken and New Hampshire’s Jeanne Shaheen joined the calls for Shinseki to step aside in the the wake of the latest reports set forth in the preliminary Inspector Generals report. That report, which was mostly limited to the problems at the VA hospital, is just the latest in a series of news that has come out in the last week which indicate that the problems in the Phoenix VA Hospital were far from isolated and that there are serious institutional problems in the VA’s health system that have been swept under the rug, many of which have at least delayed care for hundreds if not thousands of veterans and some of which may have resulted in early deaths due to lack of adequate care.

In the end, of course, the problems at the Department go far deeper than Eric Shinseki. In many cases, they predate him and to a large degree they involve the actions or failures to act of people under him over which he does not have direct supervisory control. Getting rid of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs isn’t going to solve the problems at the VA unless it is also accompanied by the removal of the people further down the chain responsible for these decisions. There also needs to be examination of the bizarre incentive structure that led to the creation of secret waiting lists that made it appears as though hospitals were doing a better job of addressing veteran’s health needs than they actually were. And, a reassessment of the idea that the VA should be the source of all the health care that veterans receive. For example. analysts on both sides of the political aisle have suggested since this scandal first started breaking that the agency ought to be concentrating hospital resources on things like combat injuries and other areas where the agency specializes while referring most primary care out to private sector fee-for-service doctors. This may mean transforming at least part of the VA health benefit system into something resembling Medicare, allowing vets to see private physicians without having to rely on insurance from some other source. In other words, what’s needed is a transformation of the VA from the bottom up, not just the removal of the guy at the top.

All that being said, two things are becoming obvious. First of all, Shinseki has lost the confidence of both Congress and of the veterans his agency is supposed to be working for. Second, notwithstanding whatever his achievements may have been in the military, it seems clear that Shinseki is not up the task of running and reforming a bureaucracy that has been a mess for decades. Finally, if there is going to be change at the VA it seems clear that it cannot credibly executed by the same leadership team that has presided over its worst scandal in recent memories. Ideally, the President should find someone with broad support in both parties to replace Shineski, someone who would have the credibility to come into the VA and clean house. I’m not sure who that person might be at this point, but it’s exceedingly clear that the Obama Administration will not be able to put this scandal behind it unless changes are made at the top.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. DrDaveT says:

    I have been stunned by the sloppy reporting of this scandal in both the mainstream press and the defense trade press. I read the interim IG report; it does NOT say (as claimed by Foreign Policy) that 1700 veterans were not put on any waiting list — it says they were not put into the specific electronic reservation system that generates the official wait time statistics. It does NOT say (as implied by the WaPo) that 23 veterans may have died as a direct result of these scheduling games.

    In fact, it doesn’t even say that any veterans waited longer than they would have if the system were working as intended. It says that the deliberately deceptive paper-shuffling system being used might well have led to veterans falling through the cracks — but they don’t know yet.

    If I were a Veteran Service Organization like Purple Heart or AmVets or DVA, my number one priority would be to address the staffing shortfalls that make 6-month waits for a basic doctor’s appointment the norm. That’s the bottom line here — that there aren’t enough doctors or hospitals to meet the demand.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 0

  2. C. Clavin says:

    Sure fire the guy.
    But we should be clear…his biggest sin was not screaming at the top of his lungs about funding cuts and lack of support from both Congress and the White House…going all the way back to JFK.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  3. Ron Beasley says:

    My question is why would Shinseki even want the job any longer?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  4. SKI says:

    @DrDaveT:

    If I were a Veteran Service Organization like Purple Heart or AmVets or DVA, my number one priority would be to address the staffing shortfalls that make 6-month waits for a basic doctor’s appointment the norm. That’s the bottom line here — that there aren’t enough doctors or hospitals to meet the demand.

    This.

    You want to solve access issues? Expand access.

    But that takes funding … lots of funding.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  5. CB says:

    They’re not going to have a choice, Shinseki has to go. You’ve gotta feel for him in a way. The guy just keeps finding swords to fall on.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  6. Mr. Prosser says:

    @DrDaveT: @SKI: In February of this year Bernie Sanders presented a bill to provide 21 billion dollars in new benefits for the VA over the next decade. It failed, only two Republicans voted for it because it provided for removal of a in vitro fertilization ban for veterans unable to conceive a child due to wounds and the addition of an unrelated sanction on Iran. This is the crap we put up with. (source: http://www.esquire.com/blogs/politics/senate-blocks-bill-expanding-veterans-benefits-022714?click=main_sr)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  7. bob says:

    The problem is too many libs in the service—“America’s newest veterans are filing for disability benefits at a historic rate, claiming to be the most medically and mentally troubled generation of former troops the nation has ever seen.

    A staggering 45% of the 1.6 million veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are now seeking compensation for injuries they say are service-related. That is more than double the estimate of 21% who filed such claims after the Gulf War in the early 1990s, top government officials told the Associated Press.

    What’s more, these new veterans are claiming eight to nine ailments on average, and the most recent ones over the last year are claiming 11 to 14. By comparison, Vietnam veterans are currently receiving compensation for fewer than four, on average, and those from World War II and Korea just two. “

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 7

  8. bob says:

    Palin is right again. The VA will never be fixed.It is a government program and the government is the problem. We need to look into giving vets a voucher to help them buy their own, like is being proposed for medicare.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 5

  9. Ebenezer_Arvigenius says:

    Palin is right again. The VA will never be fixed.It is a government program and the government is the problem.

    It must be nice to be able to substitute any thought process with soundbites. So relaxing.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  10. anjin-san says:

    Palin is right again

    Really? When has she been right about anything in the past?

    the government is the problem

    So you are going to stop using public roads and opt-out of police and fire protection? Let us know how that works for you.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  11. Scott says:

    DrDaveT is exactly right.

    Here is another problem. Use of measurements that drive the wrong actions. In business, the saying goes, you get what you measure. If you have access goals given to you and you can’t meet them because of systemic problems and their is, perhaps, bonus money tied to meeting them, then this fact of life will drive the wrong action, i.e., hide the numbers.

    The access to care numbers should have been allowed to grow so that attention could be paid and resources allocated. Instead the incentives were to cover them up. And this is what you get.

    I love the suggestion to privatize. Let’s go and examine that. I bet you’ll need a whole lot more money to accomplish that. Give veterans a voucher? Send that up the flagpole and see who salutes. I bet no one. Veterans don’t want vouchers, they want free care. And will fight it every step of the way.

    What measurements I would be interested in seeing is in efficiency. Are the VA facilities really getting the patient throughput they could get? While maintaining the quality standards they are currently meeting?

    There is a lot of work here to do. Of course, politics is not geared to doing that work.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  12. Mike says:

    Don’t get me wrong, I think he has to go, but once you replace him, you are still stuck with the same problem – too many users and not enough providers. W/o additional doctors and funding, his replacement will face the same problem. Replacing him is just a bandaid to make Congress feel like they are making things better. How about some meaningful reform and adequate resourcing?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  13. Rafer Janders says:

    @bob:

    A staggering 45% of the 1.6 million veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are now seeking compensation for injuries they say are service-related. That is more than double the estimate of 21% who filed such claims after the Gulf War in the early 1990s, top government officials told the Associated Press.

    My god, veterans who survived anywhere from one to four one-year tours in active war zones are filing more claims than veterans of a conflict which lasted about 100 hours tops and where the vast majority of them never even saw a shot fired in anger? (The real question is how 21% of the troops in Kuwait suffered disabilities?)

    What’s more, these new veterans are claiming eight to nine ailments on average, and the most recent ones over the last year are claiming 11 to 14. By comparison, Vietnam veterans are currently receiving compensation for fewer than four, on average, and those from World War II and Korea just two. “

    (A) Most veterans in the Iraq War and Afghanistan did multiple tours, unlike Korea and Vietnam where it was usually one and out (unless, like John Kerry, you volunteered for additional combat tours), and WWII lasted a lot shorter time (for the US) than the current conflicts (less than 3.5 years for WWII as compared to 12 years plus for the present).

    (B) Improvements in battlefield medicine means that many soldiers and marines who would have died of their injuries in WWII, Korea and Vietnam now survive. Dead men don’t file disability claims, while surviving but wounded veterans do. It’s a real shame that those men couldn’t just die on the battlefield and save us the cost of caring for their wounds for the next 70 years, but there it is.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  14. Rafer Janders says:

    @bob:

    We need to look into giving vets a voucher to help them buy their own, like is being proposed for medicare.

    I am sure there’s a lot of insurance companies ready and willing to offer health care to a population consisting largely of wounded and disabled young men who will require lots of expensive medical care for the next 60-70 years. If there’s one thing that private insurance companies love to do, it’s writing unlimited checks for long-term medical care!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  15. Rafer Janders says:

    @bob:

    It is a government program and the government is the problem.

    Why do you hate the United States military?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  16. Rafer Janders says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    Forgot to mention that increased use of body and vehicle armor since Vietnam also means that there’s a higher rate of survivable injuries. Again, less dead on the battlefield, more disability claims post-battlefield.

    Don’t want vets to file disability claims? Don’t send them off to war in the first place.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  17. DrDaveT says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    My god, veterans who survived anywhere from one to four one-year tours in active war zones are filing more claims than veterans of a conflict which lasted about 100 hours tops and where the vast majority of them never even saw a shot fired in anger? (The real question is how 21% of the troops in Kuwait suffered disabilities?)

    Careful; you’re making an unwarranted assumption here about what a ‘disability’ is.

    The (vast?) majority of service-connected disabilities have nothing to do with combat. This is a point that most people completely miss, in part because the posturing in Congressional hearings is always about cherry-picked anecdotes that pluck at the heartstrings.

    What are the disabilities that are driving the explosion in disability benefit costs?
    * Back injuries
    * Knee injuries
    * Diabetes
    * Sleep apnea
    * PTSD
    * Ischemic heart disease
    * Prostate cancer

    …and so forth. Some of those are driven by carrying ridiculously heavy packs. Some of them are driven by being old, but having the law say that service-connection is assumed. Some of them are driven by broader societal trends like obesity that happen to also affect service personnel.

    PTSD is the only one on the list that is really tied to combat — but even there the rules about having to be able to cite a specific ‘stressor’ have been relaxed. It is perfectly possible to have very real PTSD that derives from having friends never come back, or being in an attack that didn’t harm anyone physically. The combination of the much longer duration of this past war and the much higher sensitivity of the medical establishment to the possibility of PTSD drives its current frequency. It’s not that Vietnam and Korean vets didn’t have PTSD; it’s that nobody cared at the time.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  18. Eric Florack says:

    SANTA ANA, Calif. (CN) – After waiting for four hours for dialysis with a shunt in his arm, a veteran told a Veterans Administration hospital he was leaving, whereupon VA police beat the hell out of him and stomped on his carotid artery, giving him a stroke that killed him, and they lied to his wife about it, the widow claims in court.

    Here, dear reader, we have it all. Police brutality, the VA in a nutshell, and with it our own future with Obamacare.

    I can say all of this with no fear of contradiction because at the bottom line, this…all of it… is government in it’s pure form.

    And therein lies the real issue. My fear, here, is that if they manage to axe Shinseki, the big government types will consider the problem solved, and move on instead of working to solve the problem by removing it from the hands of government.

    Funding is decidedly not the issue, given the huge increases in funding in recent years. The usual suspects tried the usual trick of trying to make it go away by throwing tax money at the problem. Obviously, all that did, in usual governmental fashion, is make the problem worse.

    The Democrats are dodging this issue as best they can lest the population at last recognize that the the current state of the VA is our future with government healthcare, and revolt.(Notice Obama said nothing about the problem in his speech at West Point, for example)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  19. C. Clavin says:

    @Eric Florack:
    So I assume, based on your comments, that you have renounced your Social Security and Medicare? As well as your housing subsidy?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  20. C. Clavin says:

    Dopey me…I just realized that this is the same guy that was absolutely right when he said that Iraq and and Afghanistan were going to require much more time, troops and money than Bush and Co. were predicting…only he was run out of town for telling the truth.
    Now the wounded from those wars of choice are coming back to haunt him?
    Unbelievable.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  21. @bob:

    What’s more, these new veterans are claiming eight to nine ailments on average, and the most recent ones over the last year are claiming 11 to 14. By comparison, Vietnam veterans are currently receiving compensation for fewer than four, on average, and those from World War II and Korea just two.

    Gee, it’s almost like having a lot of war injuries shortens your lifespan, so that decades later only the relatively uninjured will be left.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  22. Just Me says:

    Shinsheki should have been marching his butt to congress to explain the problems with backlogs-using the stats to argue for more funding (especially for those doctors evaluated initial disability applications or for some other solution to move veterans into the system more quickly).

    Instead he had his thumb up his behind while overwhelmed hospitals were faking wait lists to his the problem.

    The scandal isn’t the fact that veterans were waiting-the scandal was hiding the fact that veterans were waiting. The VA was punishing whistle blowers.

    Is this problem an easy fix? Nope but punishing those who were fakig wait lists is a must.

    That said veteran care varies from hospital to hospital and clinic to clinic. My husband has always gotten good care at the VA hospitals although the care at the local clinic has varied a great deal.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  23. superdestroyer says:

    Why would anyone want to take on the job for two year, be a lame duck, get yelled at by veterans and the media, and have almost no chance to succeed after Shinseki is fired? Can the VA go two years with an acting Secretary?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  24. An Interested Party says:

    The problem is too many libs in the service—”America’s newest veterans are filing for disability benefits at a historic rate, claiming to be the most medically and mentally troubled generation of former troops the nation has ever seen.

    That’s rather rich to imply that liberals are too eager to suck at the government teat when so many Tea Bag types (hardly leftists) whine about too much government and taxes while collecting their monthly Social Security checks and Medicare benefits…

    Meanwhile, anyone who is complaining that these new vets are looking for too much help should have thought about having an appropriate military force to fight two wars rather than the stupid idea of going to war with the army you have—not the army you might want or wish to have…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  25. dazedandconfused says:

    @Just Me:

    It’s going to be difficult to keep a clear idea of what happened due to our self-serving and abysmal media, but keep in mind this is about the lower levels falsifying records to get bonuses, which AFAIK is only legal for Wall Street bankers.

    Moreover, expecting the top brass to have marched in there with what we know now misses the boat.

    Shinseki’s integrity has been proven, and after the Sherrod fiasco Obama might wish to hold the decision off a bit.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  26. DrDaveT says:

    @Eric Florack:

    Funding is decidedly not the issue, given the huge increases in funding in recent years.

    VA funding has gone up by a factor of about 2.5 since 1980, after adjusting for inflation. Want to guess how much health care costs have gone up over that same period?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  27. Eric Florack says:

    @C. Clavin:
    I’m not a rich man.

    So, since the money has already stolen from me… money that would have been used for self support…. to support such programs as you mention, I have no choice but to accept them.

    @DrDaveT: First, let’s see what the figures say. At AZ central, we find comments from Obama regarding the increases in funding Obama takes such great pride in.

    THE COMMENTS: “We have made progress over the last five years. We’ve made historic investments in our veterans. We’ve boosted VA funding to record levels.”

    WHAT WE’RE LOOKING AT: Whether Obama accurately described the level of funding to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

    ANALYSIS: The president is correct in saying the United States has “made historic investments” in veterans, if those investments are measured as funding for the VA.

    The VA’s funding increased by nearly 68percent from fiscal 2009 through 2015, according to a fact sheet that accompanied the VA’s 2015 budget request.

    The only dip during that period was from 2010 to 2011, but funding has eclipsed the 2010 mark since then, according to the document.

    Funding was as follows:

    2009:$97.7 billion;

    2010:$127.2 billion;

    2011: $125.5 billion;

    2012: $126.8 billion;

    2013: $139.1 billion;

    2014: $153.8 billion;

    2015: $163.9 billion.

    A few years ago, a report by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service used slightly different figures for the VA’s funding than the VA published. Still, the research service concluded the VA’s funding in 2012 was more than 200 times as much as in 1940 as measured in real dollars, and more than 14 times as much in inflation-adjusted dollars.

    “The increases over time have reflected the impact of increases in the number of veterans as the result of wars and other conflicts, the aging of the veteran population, and changes in benefits and services provided for veterans,” according to the report, titled “Veterans Affairs: Historical Budget Authority, FY1940-FY2012.”

    VA funding followed a general upward trajectory from 1940 through 2012, according to the report. As might be expected, funding spiked following World War II and Vietnam and again since 2001.

    The overlapping years with slightly different funding amounts were 2006 through 2012. The reason for the discrepancy was not immediately clear.

    BOTTOM LINE: Obama was unclear about what he considers the “last” five years during which the country has made progress in VA funding. He may have meant 2009 through 2014, which would represent a $56.1billion increase,or 2010 through 2015, which would represent a $36.7billion bump, according to the VA’s Fast Facts.

    THE FINDING: Four stars: true.

    Despite the uncertainty of whether Obama was referring to the five-year period ending in fiscal 2014 or fiscal 2015, he was right on both counts.

    The VA’s funding has risen by tens of billions of dollars, and it has reached record or historic levels.

    Huh. So, healthcare costs went up father than that, even?
    On what account? Why is that happening? Can it be the costs are being directly driven my governmental intrusion into the market? And here I was thinking government was supposed to LOWER costs.

    Ya know, maybe you and Krugman should get together. He seems to feel the VA is a shining example of government healthcare. Know what? I think so too. Krugman is exactly right.
    It is, in fact the best example of government healthcare and shows us clearly what we all face, if we don’t shut Obamacare down now, and allow the free market to operate.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 4

  28. anjin-san says:

    @ Florack

    So, since the money has already stolen from me

    You keep saying this. Has the fact that society won’t allow you to become a freeloader a la right wing hero Cliven Bundy finally driven you around the bend? Do you think fairies and unicorns provide things like the US Armed Forces and the roads that you drive on to earn your living?

    You never answered my question recently – did your kids go to public school? If so, by your lights, you were stealing from people who have no kids who were forced to help pay for their education.

    Face it dude, you are just another parasite who wants free stuff.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  29. anjin-san says:

    Huh. So, healthcare costs went up father than that, even?

    Yea, who could have guessed that a decade of war would lead to higher costs taking care of vets? Not the people who were cheering so loudly for the wars…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  30. Eric Florack says:

    @anjin-san: Yes, I keep saying this. The facts haven’t changed. Given the choice I’d provide for me and mine. The government decides in the name of “fairness” to take that choice, that freedom from me. And the answeer in the case of schools is the same.

    And, freeloading? You don’t seem to have a problem forcing taxpayers to pay for you and yours… what should have been YOUR responsibility to pay for. Yeah, I’m a freeloader. Right.

    And you seem to be making a lot of assumptions about VA funding as well… ones not borne out by known facts. Example… do we know where the money…all this increased funding for the VA is going? Um…. no

    .
    http://www.stripes.com/news/lawmakers-angry-over-elusive-va-spending-data-1.198652#

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 5

  31. C. Clavin says:

    @Eric Florack:

    I have no choice but to accept them.

    You have the choice.
    You just don’t have any balls…you lack the courage of conviction.
    Like most of the bigots in the world…you’re just full of BS up to your eyeballs.
    If you aren’t willing to walk the walk…you ought to stop talking the talk.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  32. Eric Florack says:

    Really?
    You’ve just explained to me you’re close less, @C. Clavin:

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  33. Eric Florack says:

    Oh, speaking of clueless Democrats, can we agree that this cluelessness is part of the VA problem?

    http://www.westernjournalism.com/democrat-rep-corrine-brown-completely-oblivious-vas-problems/

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  34. anjin-san says:

    @ Florack

    The government decides in the name of “fairness” to take that choice, that freedom from me. And the answeer in the case of schools is the same.

    Really? You were forced to send your kids to private schools at public expense? Funny, I know a lot of people who sent their kids to private schools and covered the costs out of pocket.

    Also, please tell me how the taxpayers are paying my way in any manner they are not paying yours as well.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  35. anjin-san says:

    @ Florack

    The government decides in the name of “fairness” to take that choice, that freedom from me.

    So if you had freedom of choice, you would build your own highway system to earn your living on, instead of mooching of the one the taxpayers provide?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  36. DrDaveT says:

    @Eric Florack:

    Given the choice I’d provide for me and mine.

    What’s stopping you? Somalia is waiting. So are we.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  37. DrDaveT says:

    @Eric Florack:

    So, healthcare costs went up father than that, even? On what account? Why is that happening?

    As Yogi Berra was wont to say, “You could look it up.”

    Can it be the costs are being directly driven my governmental intrusion into the market?

    As it turns out, no — that’s not it. Government intrusion into markets can certainly raise prices, but in this particular case that’s not what’s going on. Again, if you are really interested in learning about what has driven the dramatic rise in healthcare costs, You Could Look It Up. I suspect, though, that you will (again) prefer to protect your ignorance, and continue to assert the causes you wish were true.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  38. anjin-san says:

    @ Florack

    what should have been YOUR responsibility to pay for

    Several psychiatric nurses, therapists and social workers that have visited our son where he lives have told us it is pretty unusual for someone with his level of mental health challenges to receive the level of care he does from us, or any care at all for that matter. Roughly 90% of people in his situation have been abandoned by their families. You know them as homeless people.

    We have spend countless hours taking care of him, and financially we are out of pocket in the low six figures. We take care of him every day of the year. Every single one. It’s been two years since my wife and I have been able to get out of town together for even a night.

    Exactly how do you figure we have come up short on our responsibilities? Keep in mind that he is an adult (as he has been the whole time he had been ill), and our legal responsibility is zero.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  39. Eric Florack says:

    @anjin-san: Highways are in the constitution.

    The founders wisely chose not to put other items in there.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  40. Eric Florack says:

    @anjin-san: there is a moral responsibility to family… that doesnt end when they move out.
    But then you apparently only judge morality by what is LEGAL.
    unimpressive.
    Godwin be damned, you should never forget that everything Hitler did… everything…was legal.

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  41. Eric Florack says:

    @DrDaveT: No, thats exactly whats going on and always has been. Look at healthcare costs pre ‘great society’ and after to see the point. Governemnt intrusion into the free market and healthcare costs, you will find are directly linked.

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  42. Grewgills says:

    @Eric Florack:

    But then you apparently only judge morality by what is LEGAL.
    unimpressive.

    That seems more your standard. Rail against big government while enjoying the perks of big government, but hey it’s legal.

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  43. anjin-san says:

    @ Florak

    But then you apparently only judge morality by what is LEGAL.

    This is obvious nonsense, since we have no legal obligation here, yet do quite a bit because of a family obligation, at least as we see it. Most in our situation do not.

    there is a moral responsibility to family… that doesnt end when they move out.

    Are you saying that you, Eric Florack, have a 100%, absolute responsibility to provide any and all support that YOUR children might need, even when they are adults, for the rest of your life? That if an adult child of yours needs medical or other care he/she cannot provide, you will pauperize yourself, sell everything you own, to meet that obligation? After all, that is what you are asking of me.

    As you know (unless you think I am lying) my wife and I have done quite a bit for our son. I believe I also told you that my wife single handedly lifted her family out of dire poverty. If you actually believe in the things that conservatives supposedly believe in, we should be at least respectable, if not admirable in your eyes.

    Ah, and apparently I now have something to do with Hitler. As you know, I have spent some time around people with serious mental health issues. Some of them have a firmer grip on reality than you do.

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  44. anjin-san says:

    Look at healthcare costs pre ‘great society’

    Ah, the good old days, when about a third of senior citizens in America lived in poverty.

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  45. anjin-san says:

    @Eric Florack:

    Highways are in the constitution.

    The Constitution does indeed address roadways. But how is this relevant? According to you, taxation is theft. So it follows that you are earning your living driving on roadways that are paid for with stolen money. Basically, you are receiving stolen property. How do you rationalize this?

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  46. anjin-san says:

    @ Florack

    I am getting more curious here. Please tell me exactly how I have failed in my moral obligations to my family.

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  47. DrDaveT says:

    @Eric Florack:

    Governemnt intrusion into the free market and healthcare costs, you will find are directly linked.

    Sorry, you’ll need to provide a little more evidence here. Point me at an article, or cite an author, or something. Anything. I’m open to evidence here; I think it’s not all that unlikely that the average cost of healthcare would go up when you make it available to more than a small fraction of the population.

    There’s something surreal about a libertarian longing for “the good old days” of US healthcare policy. We’re talking about the nation that incarcerated Typhoid Mary in 1900’s for her refusal to stop working in the food service industries, because public health is more important than individual liberty…

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