Big government is good, and bigger government is even better - A progressive rubric
This year’s concurrence of Memorial Day and Obama’s latest scandal involving VA healthcare invited a lot of discussion about the latter under RR’s posting on the former. Perhaps we can continue the exchange under its own banner, so to speak.
The VA scandal has a number of debatable attributes –
1. Government does poorly when it seeks to provide services. This is most apparent when it seeks to provide services that people actually need like healthcare and training.
2. The VA has delivered subpar healthcare for decades under Republican and Democratic administrations. However, since Democrats have controlled Congress for most of the post-war years, VA funding can fairly be seen as an expression of liberal funding policies.
3. The VA is a behemoth of a government bureaucracy employing over 300,000 federal workers and consuming about $150B annually. It can easily serve as the poster child of all that goes wrong when government gets too big.
4. President Obama made VA healthcare a major thrust of his administration, and then promptly ignored it until the scandal broke late last year.
5. Since the VA’s manipulation of waiting lists fraud surfaced last year, the administration has done nothing to alleviate the pain, suffering, and deaths caused by corruption in that agency. (Congress granted VA the ability to voucher veterans for private sector healthcare since 2000. Claiming that as a current response is a cynical lie.)
6. Illustrating how Congress responds to obvious VA corruption and mismanagement, majority leader Sen Harry Reid has labeled the horror stories coming out of VA hospitals as “all lies”. (Here is the latest in the stream of such stories that has now become a torrent as physicians and other VA hospital workers come forward.)
7. President Obama continues refusing to say or do anything material about the scandal, claiming that nothing can be done until the investigation is over. But the investigation is only required to identify the miscreants in charge of “losing documents, cooking the books, and covering up” (Sen Blumenthal – D Conn), and not to confirm for the thousandth time that veterans are denied proper healthcare and are dying while languishing on fraudulently managed wait lists.
8. The ongoing debate between conservatives and liberals about how the problem should be solved resides again between 1) first reforming the broken and corrupt management of VA, and 2) simply throwing more money into the same rathole. (Consider that the VA budget has already more than tripled in the last thirteen years while the healthcare horror stories have multiplied.)
So now we have prominent progressive pundits again covering up corruption and incompetence in government by doubting the sincerity of conservatives who have resisted the ‘more money down the same rathole’ remedies proposed by Democrats in Congress. Some have gone as far as ol’ Harry who denies the existence of the problem. And then there's the local liberal leader who had to fabricate and attribute a direct quote to me – "I support the Veterans but I oppose giving any more money to the programs that can help them." – in order to bolster his stale prescriptions for fixing a long-festering problem. It’s the same with a clunker that finally breaks down; pouring more fuel in the gas tank is not going to fix it – someone should first look under the hood.