President Obama is scheduled to meet
with embattled Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki Friday morning, for what the president described as "a serious conversation with him about whether he thinks he’s prepared and has the capacity to take on the job of fixing it." With many congressional Democrats joining Republicans in calling for Shinseki to step down after an inspector general's interim report finding a Phoenix VA medical center hiding significant wait times for veterans' medical care, you might expect the meeting to be the end for him. However, speaking to homeless veterans earlier Friday morning, Shinseki sounded focused on fixing problems, not leaving.
Shinseki reportedly concluded that speech by announcing that he is removing senior officials in charge of the troubled Phoenix VA, that senior Veterans Health Administration officials would not be receiving performance bonuses this year, and that wait times for patients to receive care would no longer be part of performance reviews, removing an incentive for VA employees to cover up long waits. Further, Shinseki endorsed legislation allowing him to more easily fire VA workers.
With an apologetic Shinseki saying "this situation can be fixed" and moving to do so, his answer to Obama's questions about his preparedness to take on the task seems clear.