Joe Conason of Real Clear Politics makes several points in In VA Scandal, Accountability for All -- Including Congress, that I set as my goal to make today, when I woke up this morning. I posted some of my initial research in an earlier diary. Our own LilithGardener just summed up the essence entire illusive message I have been aspiring towards in her brilliant "Put Vets over Old Jets," distillation of my last two posts, and proposed we think of a clever hash tag to start a campaign - maybe #VetsOverJets ?
Conanson says the secret waiting lists at VA facilities, are "a direct consequence of policy decisions made in the White House years before President Barack Obama got there." Republicans have refused nearly every Democratic proposal to expand the VA in the last 13 years, the modest increases in capacity we have made are nothing compared to what should have been expected given the wars. A base surge of soldiers from 13 years of two major wars, has been amplified by major improvements to body armor leading to lower mortality.
Higher combat casualty survival rate have yielded substantially higher numbers of returningg veterans with amputations, TBIs, PTSD, and other kinds injuries we've been tracking for a long time. We have a moral obligation to pay for will the lifetime of a higher level of care per veteran health care than any previous war. We've known this for almost a decade.
Trying to "cram" a massive surge of new veterans, with a higher per veteran need for health care into the VA system without a proportionate expansion of VA capacity is irresponsible. Let's fix this problem from the top down by allocating the proper amount of funds.
A substantial portion of the estimated $ 3 trillion price of that war is represented by the cost of decent care for veterans. But even as the war raged on, the Bush administration and Republicans in Congress repeatedly refused to appropriate sufficient funding for veterans' health care. This financial stinginess toward vets was consistent with Bush's refusal to take any steps to pay for his expensive war (and decision to protect his skewed tax cuts instead).As I pointed out in a post earlier this morning the Republicans just filibustered a $20 billion bill, in February, that would have built 26 new VA facilities, just as they have done for 13 years.
As Alec MacGillis pointed out this week in the New Republic, legislators who voted for war while opposing expansion of the VA are hypocrites, particularly when they claim to care about veterans. So are the Republican governors who refuse to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, which keeps hundreds of thousands of impoverished vets from getting health care.
Republicans regularly propose cuts in VA funding and oppose increases sponsored by Democrats -- a pattern that extends back to the first years of the Iraq and Afghan conflicts and continues to this day. ... When politicians demand accountability from their betters, including a war hero like Shinseki, let's remember that they should be held accountable, too.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, pointed out that the cost of this bill could have been easily covered by savings from savings from the wind downs of troop deployments in the two wars, but Republicans declared they would rather "dedicate the savings (of redeployment) toward deficit reduction.""
The most helpful thing we can do is probably let General Shinseki, the VA and the Obama administration do their best to fix this problem and vote for major funding increases comparable to the magnitude of the demand we can expect based on the number of new injuries, and the magnitude of those injuries in a post body armor world of war.
If the Republicans want to politicize his issues, perhaps, we should start clamoring that this 13 years of Republican congress peoples refusal to increase VA funding to adequate levels be the focus of a Benghazi-like hearing in the Senate and we can see which topic the American people find more interesting - sad and tragic storming of a diplomatic facilities years ago that everyone regrets, and has been investigated 7 times concluding no direct wrong doing, or the ongoing travesty and hypocrisy of the entire Republican congressional contingent's ongoing betrayal, disrespect, and mistreatment of our American veterans after they have loyally served our nation in wars the Republicans have demanded and started?
Another aspect of this crisis to remember is that the VA is the best model we have of a single payer health delivery system (dizzydean notes it also a government delivered health-care system, and Medicare is a better example of single-payer, and I guess he is right - vets like it either way) and it has been working well. Some Republicans are exploiting this opportunity to demand it be privatized. Conanson notes that in his testimony to congress last week, the American Legion commander Dan Dellinger asserted veterans are extremely satisfied with their health care and providers.
The primary problem seems to be that a system that has been working well has been deluged with a surge of new demand as soldiers return from Ira and Afghanistan, but the system has not been expanded by a similar amount because of Republican opposition to funding increases.
We may have a rare and brief opportunity to get that funding now. Just a few days ago the House rejected the Pentagon's request to cancel funding for ancient and obsolete weapons systems such as the U-2 from the 1950 which has been replaced by safer unmanned surveillance drones. The Pentagon wanted to reallocated this money for expanded benefits for troops which might have improved mental heath for troops.
It would seem that Republican congresspeople would rather see this money go to arms dealers in their districts who are contributors to campaigns. The time to make this an issue is when the smoking guns are in their hands.
Our next step should be to urge the OFA, DNC, DCCC, DSCC, other party organizations, Move ON, and ourselves fired up to demand a 50% expansion of VA funding with new revenues coming from closing loopholes, as well as hitting all GOP congress people who voted against expanded VA funding in the last 13 years, and for defense budget pork, such as restoring money for obsolete weapons systems such as the U-2 that the Pentagon years hard in the November elections.
I know many here are boycotting "centrist" party organizations, I do not understand the details enough to comment on that, but please notice I am not asking that you send them money, but rather merely am asking that we urge them to do something useful for our veterans, and Democratic candidates for the fall elections. It seems clear that until we take back the Congress our nation's veterans are not going to get a fair shake, and the health care they deserve.
2:18 PM PT: Dizzydean notes in a comment that the VA is really an example of a government delivered healthcare system, and Medicare is a better example of a single payer system, and I guess he is correct. Couldn't the both be single payer and the VA additionally government delivered, or is that already inherently implied? I guess it is. Thanks Dizzy.
3:53 PM PT: We are fortunate indeed to have LilithGardener here with us today, who is, as far as I can tell, a marketing genius from one of those Major Marketing firms like we've seen on that TV show Mad Men she distilled my last two posts into the essence of what I was trying to say.
Put Vets Ahead of Old JetsFunding for Vets! GOP proves we CAN afford it!
There are veterans awaiting care in every district. Any investment in Veterans healthcare is an investment across the country.
Needs a catchy slogan and a hasthtag, to go with calls for action.
How about #VetsOverJets ?
I have to set up at Twitter and Facebook account, I guess. Do they allow dogs?
Thanks Lilith this is great. This is a great issue to highlight the contrast to Democratic and Republican approaches to social issues and we owe it to our vets to adequately fund the VA for the 50 years. We need probably need to double capacity. Let's start with a 50% increase, or whatever expert analysis tells us we should expect based on data and get it in place right now. I'll bet we can get this done in a few months and funded by closing one corporate loophole.
Isn't there one we've talked about for the oil industry is skimming worth $30 billion? Harry Reid should put his February $20 billion back on the table funded buy this and tells the GOP they have 72 hours to vote to approve it before he and Pelosi order the "release the HoundDog and the Kracken!" (or now LilithGardener)
I have to go out and buy reading glasses,and a friend just pointed out I misspelled my own name since everything is so blurry o and a look the the same. And a new keyboard. When I press the g they keep on going until I hit delete. I have to cut and paste five letters.
I should be back in about an hour, unless I see any town festivals that sells hot dogs on BBq (make that six lettters that I need to cut and paste and there is not capital q to be found on this page.) -HD
3:58 PM PT: For those unfamiliar with the terrifying "release the Kracken" and the charge of the HoundDog video and picture, you can follow this link. My strategy with post is to keep it succinct, focused, and clean. = HD
I'll leave it to Lilith to decide if it is a good time to start a hashtag #VetsOverJets, or maybe even the full #PutJetsAheadofOldJets. I would be glad to write a new shorter, pithier post with the link to the defense spending bill if that would be useful when I get back from Staples with reading glasses and a new keyboard. What ever people decide is most useful. Thanks again Lilith.
6:22 PM PT: Lilith has already put up an action diary where she refers to this post and my last one an sends people over here. She is one ball of energy. You should check out her post at Put Vets Ahead of Old Jets!
I better go send a post to elffing, jotter, and our other technical wizards about what we've done here in case later this evening steam starts coming out of the Master Computer at Daily Kos Central Command, and every thing starts shaking like on those early Star Trek episodes when Spock programs an infinite recursion like this into the computers.
Because if I now send every one over to Lilith's post, and she sends people over to this post, people could keep going around and around until the computer overheat and all that steam starts coming out the side.
I never though they should keep water inside the computers and why didn'ts some one just pull the plug? (humor alert.) Apparently by the 24 Century computer science must have advanced to they point engineers put "oversteaming safety circuits" in the Enterprise's computers because Captain Picard never had that problem.
So, kogs, if this happens to you and steam starts coming out of your laptop, and the alarms go off, do not panic!, Just unplug the power chord and then take the batteries out of the back and you will be fine!! I'm sure elffing and the top flight DKos software engineers probably have already built in protections for this kind of thing they haven't even told us about yet.