Hard as it may be for some people to believe, the VA’s screwups didn’t begin in 2009 when Obama took the oath. I well remember 2005, when VA secretary Jim Nicholson (an ex-GOP chairman with no government management experience, and no previous experience advocating for vets) had to admit that Iraq and Afghanistan vets were waiting interminably for medical services. Turned out, the VA had severely undercounted – by 80,000 – the number of vets expected for treatment that year. Put simply, the VA had somehow failed to anticipate that Bush’s needless war in Iraq would spark an enrollment surge.
Things only got worse. By mid-2007, the VA’s disability claims backlog exceeded 400,000. Meanwhile, Nicholson had already approved bonuses for top VA officials, totaling $3.8 million. And in spring ’07, when he was confronted with reports of widespread vet treatment shortfalls, he said the evidence was merely “anecdotal,” and he voiced this memorable gem: “When you are treating so many people, there is always going to be a linen towel left somewhere.”
Funny, I don’t remember congressional Republicans calling for Nicholson’s head, or blaming Bush for mismanaging the leviathan.
Do read the rest, in which he also takes some jabs at President Obama.