Sen. Patty Murray cynically followed President Barack Obama in blaming the exploding Veterans Administration scandal on someone other than her own party and the leader in charge of the VA for the last 5 years, Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki.
For Murray, the so-called “Mom in Tennis Shoes”, it’s not the fault of the folks she supported to run the Veterans Administration that our veterans are not receiving the health care they need, but instead it’s all because some people want to see the federal government spend less than it takes from taxpayers. Murray recently described the problem as a “cost-cutting culture.” She said, “In an environment where everybody is told, ‘Keep the cost down. Don’t tell me anything costs more.’ — it creates a culture out there for people to cook the books”.
Perhaps if Murray had any experience in the private sector, she would suggest we fire those who “cook the books,” rather than blaming those who worry about spending money we don’t have.
All this leads us to a question for Murray:
According to their own projections in 2013, the VA’s budget is “projected to rise 58 percent since 2009 to $152.7 billion, more than double the $70.9 billion spent in 2005.” Given that valuable piece of information, how does government spending cuts have anything to do with dishonorable treatment our veterans have received?
While Obama is reassuring the public that he is troubled and angry over the scandal and Murray is falsely pointing to government cuts that encourage a “cook the books” culture, outrage over the treatment of veterans continues to grow as new revelations uncover the extent of the disgrace afforded to them by the VA Department.
A report released yesterday from the VA’s Office of Inspector General revealed the problem is endemic. The report confirmed that “delaying medical care to veterans and manipulating records to hide those delays is “systemic throughout” the Department of Veterans Affairs health system.” The investigation further “found that 1,700 veterans who are patients at the Phoenix hospital are not on any official list awaiting appointments, even though they need to see doctors… some 1,138 veterans in Phoenix had been waiting longer than six months just to get an appointment to see their primary doctors…” Additionally, new findings revealed “numerous allegations” of “daily of mismanagement, inappropriate hiring decisions, sexual harassment, and bullying behavior by mid- and senior-level managers.”
As a “top appropriator and former chairwoman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee,” Murray is noticeably not among the Democrat members of Congress calling for Shinseki’s resignation—a number that grew since the release of yesterday’s report. Of course, that may just be because Murray is not facing a competitive race in 2014 and has no need of using veterans for political expediency.
Democrats pushing for Shinseki’s resignation face competitive races in 2014. They include Senators Mark Udall of Colorado, Kay Hagan of North Carolina and John Walsh of Montana.
Murray did manage to re-iterate her “cook the books” culture statement following the release of the damning report yesterday by calling for Shinseki to “put an end to what appears to be a pervasive culture of lying, cheating mismanagement” at the VA.
Taking her cue from Obama, Murray is taking the all-talk-and-no-action approach to problems. Unfortunately, as we have learned over and over again from the Obama administration, saying you’re upset about a problem—or even stating you’re intention to do something about a problem—isn’t the same as taking actual action.