VA Secretary Shinseki Resigns

As CNN reports:

Embattled Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki resigned Friday, President Barack Obama announced.

Obama said he would demand accountability if problems were found at VA medical facilities and accepted Shinseki’s resignation. The two met at the White House before the president announced the development, which came as political pressure mounted for the Cabinet officer to step down.

“I regret he has to resign under these circumstances,” Obama said.

Obama said Shinseki “told me this morning the VA needs new leadership to address” widespread problems in the VA system and that Shinseki “does not want to be a distraction.”

33 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Ralphie says:

    I don't see how this gets a single vet a quicker doctor appointment.  But I'm a mere mortal.

    • BlueCatBlueCat says:

      It doesn't but that's a separate issue. Will firing Shinseki solve long standing systemic and funding problems? No. Has his performance up to now been one that inspires confidence that he is the right person to spearhead an aggressive effort to start us on the road to solving the problems? Also no. That's why his resignation became inevitable.  

      While the issue of adequate funding to provide the best possible care for our vets can only be addressed by congress there are also issues that can be addressed by VA leadershiright now and could and should hav been long before now. We can't expect any Veteran's Affairs Secretary to be able to do more than push for the former but we have every right to expect the most aggressive efforts concerning the latter and Shinseki has lost the public confidence there. This coach had to go. 

      That said, the core issue is and has been a congress that places a higher priority on lavish spending to benefit the top .1% than it does on the vets congress members claim to honor so damn much. Unfortunately their idea of honoring them is to use them for photo ops and the like to make themselves appear more patriotic than thou. 

      Elections are the only solution to that problem. All congress members who have consistently opposed giving our vets the high priority they deserve in every budget need to be voted out. That would include pretty much all current Republican members. Any vote for any Republican (even if you can find one who truly supports vets they all contribute to Republican anti-vet majorities) is a vote against our vets.

      • Tom says:

        I am curious to see what kind of shenanigans go on during the confirmation for a replacement. Obviously, having a deputy step in as acting Secretary does nothing to resolve a lack of confidence in top leadership. 

        If Obama is able to quickly forward a qualified nominee and the GOP drags its feet, the kabuki will become a little too obvious. At least an outright filibuster will no longer be on the table.

        • BlueCatBlueCat says:

          Obama must appoint someone so sterling the shenanigans will only help the public see the GOTP for what it is. Now is the time for every Dem candidate to highlight the GOTP's long standing and continuing prioritizing of the top .1% over our vest in every budget going back decades.

          The latest 300 billion for tax cuts for the Masters of the Universe must figure prominently along with clear graphs showing that these cuts and have never, are not and will not stimulate the economy via any trickle down mechanism. The facts show clearly that all the largess heaped on the top .1% and top .01% has only made them more wealthy than ever in comparison to a middle that has consistently lost ground and poor more entrenched in harder than ever to escape poverty while these discredited conservative think tank policies have been in place. 

          America is no longer the world leader in opportunity via upward mobility as a direct results of these policies and all our vets get from the party that wears its patriotism on its lapels and bumpers is crumbs.  No more begging to be liked because we're almost as conservative and "responsible" as the GOTP. Time for all out attack with the truth as our best and primary weapon.

        • JBJK16 says:

          Shinseki was a great choice. And whille I get that he gets to be held accountable for problems, the problem was not his fault.

          politically, I would love Tammy Duckworth or Max Cleland get the gig.  Though the politics may suggest a high profil Republican.

          Pprofessionally,  I have no idea what skill set is needed to fix the problems.

      • Andrew Carnegie says:

        How long has Obama had to fix these problems which he identified before he was elected?

        First 2 years he controlled both the House and the Senate.  He could have passed anything he wanted and spent any sum of money he wanted.

        To date, they have done a good job of addressing Veteran homelessness.  They have not addressed wait times for medical services and the processing of disability claims.

        At some time the President needs to man up.

        He wanted the job.  He got the job.  Now do the job.


        • Diogenesdemar says:

          If that were the only GOPer mess that the president has had to cleanup . . . 

          . . . hmmm, I wonder why the spokesdouche for the party of the 1%ers thinks that this President is supposed to be some kind of janitor for all their messes ???????

        • ajb says:

          @AC, "First 2 years blah blah blah" is factually incorrect.

          You might look it up, but probably won't. 

        • langelomisteriosolangelomisterioso says:

          Speaking of man up when are the wingnuts who signed on to make the president a one termer going to refudiate that stance and actually do something positive for veterans and the rest of the country?

  2. ZappateroZappatero says:

    Can we start kicking Republicans' asses for their despicable treatment of our Vets?

    If you let the Republicans tell it, President Obama is directly responsible for the fiasco at the Veterans Administration. But they don't tell you that fresh off of Memorial Day parade appearances, they are responsible for scuttling legislation that would have expanded benefits for the nation's 22 million veterans and their families.

    A measure backed by Obama would have lengthened the period veterans are eligible to receive health care from the VA from five years to 10 years after deployment. The bill also would have allowed the VA to open 27 new health facilities, expand medical and dental care, make more veterans eligible for in-state tuition at public universities, repeal the recent cut in cost-of-living adjustments for new enlistees and extend a program that provides care for veterans with mild to severe brain injuries.

    More than 20 military organizations – including the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Wounded Warriors Project and Disabled American Veterans – supported the bill.

    William A. Thien, commander-in-chief of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, submitted a letter saying, "This legislation is the most comprehensive veterans' legislation to be introduced in decades. It contains many of the VFW's priority goals, which will implement, expand and improve both health care and benefit services to all generations of veterans and their families."

    Senate Bill S.1982, known as the Comprehensive Veterans Health and Benefits and Military Retirement Pay Restoration Act of 2014, was favored on Feb. 27 in the Senate 56-41. But the measure fell four votes shy of the number needed to overcome a threatened GOP filibuster.

    • mamajama55mamajama55 says:

      Indeed we can, Zappa.- starting with  Tipton, who voted to filibuster Senate Bill S.1982, known as the Comprehensive Veterans Health and Benefits and Military Retirement Pay Restoration Act of 2014, or voted "No" in the House on appropriations for veteran's health bills (Coffman,  Lamborn, Gardner).

      We need to nail them as  the hypocrites they are. 

    • notaskinnycooknotaskinnycook says:

      But Zap, yoou said it, yourself: Memorial Day. The day to honor soldiers who DIED for their country. Not the wounded warriors who come back and create an ongoing expense for Congress to have to shell out for. Am I a cynic? You bet. But I've seen this movie before. I was just a little girl when the 'Nam vets were returning and were treated worse than ths batch has been. My brother-in-law served and was gravely wounded in Afghanistan. His C.O.kept him on active duty for 2 years while he was treated in military (not V.A.) hospitals, because hy knew he'd never get the same quality of care.

      • ZappateroZappatero says:

        Agree with your cycnicism and wish it weren't justified. It is.

        The War Criminals Bush and Cheney are walking free. Cheney calls Obama weak cuz he won't fight more wars, even as we are in our current reality, a reality Dick Cheney helped create.

        The War Mongers cheer them on: McCain, Graham, Ayotte are a little Bloodthirsty Greek chorus changing "Yes" at each hint of aggression. Did they insist we increase the VA budget as Sanders' bill would have done?

        The Problem isn't the VA or Shinseki by Charles Pierce

        Eric Shinseki resigned today as a result of the unfolding scandal within the Department of Veterans Affairs. This event became inevitable the moment that Shinseki sat down before the Veterans Affairs Committee of the United States Senate. It became clear almost immediately that Shinseki didn't have two votes in that room; Democratic senator Richard Blumenthal who, despite Shinseki's departure, shows no sign of getting this teeth out of this story any time soon, made it quite plain that he wasn't buying anything Shinseki was selling. And thus ends the honorable career of a soldier who was correct about the lies behind the greatest policy disaster of our times, about the essential criminality of the people who launched the invasion of Iraq, but whose primary failures as an administrator were his inability to oversee the people in his department who were directly trying to cope with the flood of casualties that resulted from all of those soldiers that most of official Washington told Eric Shinseki they would never need to create a democratic paradise in Iraq. Irony is the rail on which Shinseki now has been ridden out of town.

        One of my first beats in this business was covering the Vietnam veterans movement as they tried to get the various veterans organizations, including the VA, to pay attention to things like PTSD and the longterm effects of Agent Orange. They spoke with contempt of the World War II veterans who staffed those organizations, scoffing at what they called "the Class of '45" for the way those veterans looked down on them because they had "lost" their war. The people most willing to help were the scattered remnants of the antiwar movement — like the people who ran the GI coffeehouses and, I guess, people like us in the alternative press.


  3. Tom says:

    Compounding a personnel and budget problem with a sudden shift in top leadership? Problem solved!

  4. I am sorry to see Shinseki leave, and I am glad that Obama – in his understated way – cast the blame on the atmosphere caused by the media and political grandstanding in Congress rather than on any shortcoming of Shinseki's.

  5. SSG_Dan provided a short list of some of the many accomplishments that Shinseki managed while heading the VA.

    In addition to that, Shinseki this morning announced the first steps in resolving the current VA scandal: removing senior officials at the Phoenix VA, nixing performance bonuses for senior VHA officials on a broader basis, and, importantly, removing wait times as a performance bonus metric.


  6. Duke CoxDuke Cox says:

    Maybe the prsident finally came to understand that the job wasn't as much suited to an administrator as it needs the hand of a muleskinner.

  7. notaskinnycooknotaskinnycook says:

    Jay Carney, POTUS Press Secretary's out, too…hmm… coincidence?

  8. SSG_Dan says:

    The VA is completely and ruthlessly screwed now. All of Shinseki's major programs now go on hold, to be dismantled by Congress when everyone's not looking. 

    The New Guy (3 months on the job) gets to spend the next two years re-apologizing to Congress instead of focusing on the porblem. Think Benghazi is a flogged dead horse? The moment any new program gets proposed by VA, Repubs will just retort with "you mean like Phoenix?"

    Meanwhile, the GOP begins their campaign to completely privatize the VA, selling their normal snakeoil that "the private sector can do better." 


    • langelomisteriosolangelomisterioso says:

      Selling their snake oil while forgetting the amount of time they've spent squealing about General Motors- corporation heavily involved in the "free market".

    • BlueCatBlueCat says:

      Disagree. Had Shinseki stayed the Rs would have had a field day demanding his resignation and bashing Obama and every Dem by extension with it going into the election. That's why Shinseki wisely offered and Obama wisely accepted his resignation. The whole conversation would have been about the failure to remove Shinseki. Now the conversation can move to the VA's real core problems and we're already seeing that.  

      All over non-Fox cable people, non-rightie radio and other news media, veteran's organizations and retired military are being given a platform to talk about the fact that the VA has consistently been starved of the funding needed to have  the number of doctors, nurse and other staff needed to meet the exploding demands posed by aging boomer vets and the vets of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts converging on the VA system. They are consistently blaming congress and we all know which congress members are most responsible. This started happening, this completely changed conversation, immediately after Shinseki's resignation.

      The programs he set in motion aren't going to fall apart without him. His number two is now acting Secretary. The Republicans can't privatize anything as long as Obama is in the White House and they can't even get legislation passed and sent along to be vetoed if Dems keep the Senate. The worst case scenario is Rs taking both Houses and keeping them while taking the WH in 2016. That's why the politics of the situation matter whether you like it or not.

      And this is nothing new. This is what happens when a government institution suffers major failures and scandals. The head guy goes. Period. That's just life its own self. There was never a snowball's chance in hell Shinseki was going to survive this. Never.

      Be pissed off, if you want. Certainly many of the generals and colonels who served with him are. We're hearing their glowing praise of the man in interview after interview.  But surely you must have known this is exactly what was going to happen. Now that the completely predictable and inevitable has happened, it's time to direct all that angry energy into the next steps. That includes supporting Dems to do the best they can in the House and keep the Senate in the coming election. And not just on account of the VA. Rs would love to privatize everything and cut everything but big tax breaks and subsidies for the top .1% to the bone.

    • JBJK16 says:

      Robert J. Henkel

      Direct appeal from the President, for the good of millions.

      then take the opportunity to pressure Congress for funding and legislation.

  9. mamajama55mamajama55 says:

    For laughs, check out Doug Lamborn's Fox News interview on Shinsecki's resignation.

    Lamborn is advocating for privatization, less money for VA, mass firings going up into (of course) the Executive Branch. He also makes the dubious claim that there are fewer veterans now than there were in WWII.

    He also has really bad eye makeup. Polsters like to comment on crappy female eye makeup, so equal time for the roosters. Lamborn, just a tip: the raccoon look is not a winner for you. 

    If your stomach is really strong, you can check out Mike Coffman's interview, too.

    • BlueCatBlueCat says:

      Alternately you can sign up to volunteer for Andrew Romanoff. Anyone living in or near Littleton in CD6 can always drop by Blueberry Cafe at 1500 Littleton BLVD (shopping center at Littleton and Windermere) from 10 AM to 4 PM and report for some quality phone calling, door to door canvassing or voter registration time. Any spare time, a little or lot, will be greatly appreciated. And you'll feel so good about pitching in to help cure that Coffman induced gut pain for good. I know I do. 

      Wherever you are in CD 6 you can find out what the volunteer ops are in your area. Good place to start is with your HD Chair, the Arapahoe County Dems site or Andrew's site. And this time, you can honestly tell people that we have a real chance  to take the seat. That makes volunteering much more fun than it ever was before.

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