Obama should appoint Mitt Romney to run the VA

By Tom Quiner

Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney

Let’s be fair to the president. The problem with healthcare at the Veteran’s Administration preceded President Obama.

The Bush administration tried to do something about it by increasing funding. Funding was increased even  more under the Obama administration.

In all,  spending has increased 106% since 2003.  Caseloads have only increased 30% in the same time period. So we don’t have a money problem as much as a structural problem.

What bothers me about this president is the need for spin, the need to focus on PR at the expense of leadership.

Government-run healthcare always leads to rationing. That’s why veterans died. They had to wait until their number came up in the rationing queue. Some couldn’t wait long enough. They died.

This scandal gives a glimpse at what awaits us with Obamacare over the years ahead as rationing, or ‘death panels’ as Sarah Palin called them, is imposed.

What’s the solution? Obama calls for more money, of course. The party of government always, always, always demands more money to fix problems caused by bloated government. Peggy Noonan, writing in the Wall Street Journal, says Obama has let the bureaucracy slide into a “slobocracy.”

What a perfect term.

Their instincts are all wrong, suggests Noonan:

“The president and his staff don’t seem to know that by the time things start bubbling up from the agencies and reach the Oval Office the scandal has already happened, even if it’s not in the press yet, and the answer isn’t to prepare proactive spin but to clean up the mess, end the scandal, fire people—a lot of people—establish accountability, change bad practices, and make the agency work again.”

In other words, they need to start managing, like a Mitt Romney would do.

In February, the new VA Secretary, Robert MacDonald, claimed the agency fired 60 people for lying about the bad service they were giving our vets.

Then the agency back pedaled and said it was only fourteen.

Now that documents are available, it looks like there were only three fired.

More spin.

I like Peggy Noonan’s idea. We need someone who knows how to clean up messes. Mr. Romney has demonstrated a real genius for turning around fledgling businesses and organizations, like the Winter Olympics. He is a topflight CEO.

If the president would like to score some political points, he should reach across the aisle and appoint Mitt Romney to head the VA.

Noonan points out how embarrassing the Obama approach has been:

“Making sure that things work doesn’t seem to be his conception of his job. Words are his job. He argues for a bill, the bill becomes a program, and someone else will make it work. He talks about health care for three years, it debuts with a terrible crash, and he’s shocked. Why didn’t it work? He told it to! His background was one of some privation, but as an executive he acts like a man who grew up with 10 maids. Let them do it, I’m too busy thinking.”

It’s time to move beyond musing. It’s time for action.

It’s time for President Obama to humble himself and ask Mitt Romney for help. The VA needs a man of action, not a man of words.



  1. Wally Fry on April 24, 2015 at 5:03 am

    You know Tom, I was actually working for the VA about the time we made the decision to invade Iraq. Now, I was not medical or administrative, but even with my limited knowledge about that sort of thing, I remember thinking…Hmm I bet there’s going to be lots more patients around here in a bit; I sure hope somebody is planning for that.

    So, yes to be fair, President Obama did not create the VA crisis as we know it.

    I’m a veteran myself, and the stuff some of our returnees have had to live with is shameful. Surely if the guy running a retail store and cafeteria could predict that future, lawmakers elected and paid to take care of us could have also.

    • quinersdiner on April 24, 2015 at 7:02 am

      Thanks for weighing in, Wally. We’ve got to take better care of our veterans. The lying and the spinning at the VA has got to stop.

  2. Tom Maly on April 24, 2015 at 1:00 pm

    As a veteran as well as a former VA hospital employee, I experience huge anguish when i hear of the travails of the V.A. There are many/most VA employees who serve if not heroically, at least ably and competently with a genuine desire to serve this special group. I tend to agree that leadership is a key factor in making this, or any other large system work adequately. I find it interesting that the head of the secret service and the head of the V.A. are both in hot water at the moment. IRS is another example of an agency in desperate need of new and competent leadership.

    • quinersdiner on April 24, 2015 at 2:05 pm

      Thanks for weighing in, Tom, with from the perspective of one who has worked for the VA.

  3. Abonilox on April 25, 2015 at 12:03 am

    First let me say I agree with most of the post. Tapping Romney for the job would be excellent. He’s an honorable & competent man. The only question I have is with your statement about rationing. I’m not saying it’s incorrect, but when it comes to healthcare doesn’t rationing happen anyway? If we leave healthcare to the free market we will have rationing–by the poor. And some of them would be vets. I’m not a socialist. But claims like this stick in my craw. If you want to get rid of rationing get rid of all of it. Medicare, Medicaid & VA benefits. That’s the logical conclusion isn’t it?

    • quinersdiner on April 25, 2015 at 8:50 am

      The simple answer is yes. I’ll try to respond a little more fully in a new blogpost later today. Thanks!