The VA scandal is a devastating illustration of the failure of massive bureaucracy. Those who continually push for bigger, more-involved government have good reason to downplay the seriousness of the scandal that led to mass death and suffering for our veterans. The VA scandal underscores and important point that is at the center of conservative ideology: big government is inefficiency and costly and cannot operate at a level on par with the private sector.
So, it is hardly surprising to see that socialist presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, prior to announcing an Oval Office bid, regarded the VA scandal as a partisan move by Republicans to undermine the Veterans Administration and the Obama Administration as a whole.
As The New York Times reported after allegations of misconduct came to light, then-chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs dismissed the claims and accused Republicans of a conspiracy to smear the administration.
“There is, right now, as we speak, a concerted effort to undermine the VA,” Sanders stated in May 2014. “You have folks out there now–Koch brothers and others–who want to radically change the nature of society, and either make major cuts in all of these institutions, or maybe do away with them entirely.”
According to The New York Times, Sanders’ “deep seated faith in the fundamental goodness of government blinded him, at least at first, to a dangerous breakdown in the one corner of it he was supposed to police.”
“His ideological perspective blurred his ability to recognize the operational reality of what was happening at the V.A.,” Paul Rieckhoff, the founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America claimed. “The reality was that he was one of the last people to publicly recognize the gravity of the situation.”
The VA scandal has cost thousands of lives– Yes, thousands- as our warriors lingered in the purgatory that is government-run healthcare. Forced to endure months-long waits for basic care and unable to go elsewhere for treatment, many Americans died waiting for the government-run healthcare system to attend to them. As accountability agencies began nosing around, the VA orchestrated a department-wide conspiracy to falsify documents to obscure the actual wait times.
Despite this outrageous betrayal of public trust and illegal actions, those responsible for the scandal have been shuffled-around within the bureaucracy and none have faced criminal charges or have even been fired without cushy pensions.
Sanders has repeatedly highlighted his time on the veterans affairs committee as a reason to vote for him, but has conspicuously neglected to note that he was one of the last lawmakers to finally admit that there was a serious problem occurring within the VA system.
Even as recently as February, Sanders has defended the VA system and lashed-out at those who have dared to question the efficiency of government-run healthcare for our veterans.
“Concerned Veterans of America, funded by the Koch brothers … who want to destroy Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, every governmental program passed since the 1930s,” Sanders said in February. “Yes, there are people out there who want to privatize VA.”
Perhaps the reason people wish to privatize the VA is that they are sick and tired of seeing government incompetence and inefficiency devastate lives.
Though the VA scandal is egregious, bear in mind one simple fact: the same government that could not manage the healthcare system for a fraction of the U.S. population is now in control of administering healthcare for the entirety of the U.S.
That’s what happens under big government.