At the end of July Simon Sinek was on the Glenn Beck program to discuss his new book “Leaders Eat Last”. Beginning at the 17 minute mark of this clip Simon talks about the concept of “Long Term Greed”. Most companies only look at short term results instead of the long term health of the company. CEO’s and Management Teams try to structure their financial statements so that they will look good at the next shareholder meeting or quarterly earnings call. In many cases this short term focus and gain can lead to disastrous results in the long term.
Goldman Sachs was once the ideal model for “Long Term Greed”. They were thought of as being the company with higher ideals and values. Sometimes they would make a decision that was bad in the short term because they knew it would be good in the long run.
One example of focusing on the long term would be reinvesting profits in research and development of a new product instead of passing those profits on to investors. Another example would be an investment company investing in a company that produces modest returns, but that they think will be stable for decades to come, instead of investing in the new, hot tech company with huge returns right now, but won’t be in business in 5 years.
Politicians also focus on the next news cycle or election cycle instead of doing what is best for the country. It is all about the next sound byte or headline and what have you done for me lately. In 2008 if politicians had been looking out for the best interest of America in the long term instead of trying to get re-elected they would have taken a very different approach to the financial collapse and following recession. Instead of bailouts we would have let the companies that made bad loans fail. Instead of a stimulus package and raising tax on the 1% we would have heard politicians talking about how we have to cut spending across every sector and we need to cut taxes to encourage growth. They didn’t say any of those things though because they knew that those solutions would have been painful for everyone in the short term and would have ruined their chances for getting elected.
I invite those who read this to join with me in pondering and discussing if we are focusing on the short term gains or long term greed? When you post to your social media profile are you just trying to get the most likes, +1’s, reshares, or retweets when those posts might be hurting your message in the long term? Before you post do you stop and think “Is this going to help bring people to our side or push them away?” Are we choosing candidates to represent us based on a few sound bytes that we have heard, their looks, or their popularity when we should be focusing on their policies, vision, intelligence and integrity? When we are trying to reach those in the center or on the other side of the aisle are we using superficial slogans like Hope and Change or pretending to care with a one time service project and some staged pictures or are we digging in for the long haul and listening to these people, getting to know them and truly serving them in the way they need regardless of whether there are any cameras around?
In every aspect of life we can find examples of people sacrificing in the short term in order to reap much greater benefits in the long term. Take some time this week to think about your long term goals and if what you are currently doing has that long term goal in mind.
People, get a bug up their butt to ban something they see as detrimental to society. It could be drugs, it could be prostitution, or it could even be something as simple as a plastic bag. As a free market capitalist, banning these things makes absolutely zero sense to me. There are unintended consequences that sometimes override the supposed benefits of the feel good ban.
This utopian worldview and feel good philosophy has many unintended consequences.
So what are the unintended consequences of banning plastic bags?
The plastic bag ban has caused more crime.
From the Article:
“A reusable grocery bag left in a hotel bathroom caused an outbreak of norovirus-induced diarrhea and nausea that struck nine of 13 members of a girls’ soccer team in October, Oregon researchers reported Wednesday.”
The free market and reality are going to make plastic bags, irregardless of your feel good policies trying to ban them and save the world. Just like with drugs, banning something only increases demand and lowers the supply. Just like with other items banned the unintended consequences end up worse than the problem they were trying to fix.
The data clearly shows the plastic bag ban is killing and hurting people.
It would also be extremely educational to understand how oil is cracked. No matter what a refinery does today, they are going to end up with the material to make plastics. It doesn’t use less oil to ban bags, that poly material will be cracked no matter what.
This one is seriously under taught to our youth and politicians. The question is what will the oil refineries do with that material? Now that these dystopian mindsets are trying to make the world a better place by banning something that exists naturally as part of cracking a barrel of oil.
In conclusion, we would be well served to not so quickly ban something for the sake of trying to make the world a better place. What can you do? Get involved in local politics. If the city you live in proposes banning plastic bags, present the facts to them.
[pullquote]Businesses are trying to make money, and our politicians are trying to punish them for it.[/pullquote]
This week, Burger King has started making moves to buy Canadian doughnut shop Tim Horton’s. Part of the deal includes the American burger joint moving its headquarters to Canada. The reason? Taxes (emphasis mine):
By moving to a lower-tax jurisdiction, inversion deals enable companies to save money on foreign earnings and cash stowed abroad, and in some cases lower their overall corporate rate. Even though many of the headline-grabbing inversion deals of late have involved European companies, Canada has also been the focal point for a number of them, given its proximity and similarity to the U.S. Canada’s federal corporate tax rate was lowered to 15% in 2012.
That 15% is significantly lower than the 35% federal rate here in the US. When you factor in state and local taxes, BK’s effective US tax burden is a whopping (see what I did there?) 39%. Canada’s effective tax rate is 26.3%. The label applied to this practice is called “tax inversion.” Here’s how Wikipedia describes it (emphasis mine again):
Tax inversions are a form of tax avoidance. They are driven by a combination of factors, but the most prevalent factor is that the U.S. tax code (unusually amongst developed nations) seeks to impose income tax on profits earned abroad by American corporations. This creates a strong incentive for American companies with large overseas markets to seek to recharacterise themselves as a foreign corporation if they want to return foreign earnings to stockholders without double taxation.
Tax inversions as a tax-reduction maneuver have become a public policy issue, as substantial tax revenues are lost.Politicians and government officials including Barack Obama and Jack Lew have issued statements calling tax inversions “unpatriotic”, and various proposals have been discussed to prevent tax inversions where the relevant corporation is less than 50% foreign owned. The Economist has called recent calls in America to restrict companies from relocating abroad by way of merger “misguided”, and called for wider tax reform to address what it describes as more fundamental flaws in the American corporate tax system instead.
See that? Here we hit the nitty gritty of it: Businesses are trying to make money, and our politicians are trying to punish them for it. The purpose of a business is to make money by providing goods and services to customers. Sadly, our economic policies in general and our tax policies in particular are making it increasingly and intentionally difficult for businesses to turn a profit.
Obama sees these companies leaving and calls them “unpatriotic.” Socialist Senator Bernie Sanders says the move shows BK’s “contempt” for America. Commenters on Burger King’s Facebook page are wailing and gnashing teeth, vowing never to eat there again if the deal goes through.
(It should not be difficult to understand the logic behind Burger King’s move. But, we are dealing with an electorate that elected Obama twice, so some cognitive disconnect is to be expected.)
So what’s the solution?
The fact is, the US is hemorrhaging jobs and businesses. We have a record number of underemployed workers, particularly among minorities, and a record number of people on some type of government assistance. Proposed minimum wage increases will only exacerbate the problem. Burger King isn’t the first to bail, and they won’t be the last.
I have long been in favor of the Fair Tax, a sales tax that “replaces federal income taxes including personal, estate, gift, capital gains, alternative minimum, Social Security, Medicare, self-employment, and corporate taxes.” I’d even settle for a flat tax. Either would be a big but welcome change.
There are lesser measures that can be taken, such as tinkering with the current monster of a tax code. But, when you even have a Harvard economics professor writing in the New York Times in favor of eliminating corporate taxes, you know we’re in trouble. I disagree with Mankiw’s call for a value added tax (the Fair Tax is NOT a VAT), but he’s at least pointing in the right direction.
While a Fair or flat tax would go a long way towards improving our economy, neither will happen with Democrats in charge of the Senate and Obama in control of the White House. We’re going to need strong, conservative, economically smart leadership. We get a shot at the Senate this November, and another shot at the White House in 2016.
We have to get it right this time.
There were two major Obamacare rulings scheduled to come out this year…and both ended up coming out within hours of each other on Tuesday.
In Halbig v. Burwell, the D.C. Appeals court ruled that the subsidies in the Affordable Care Act were intended only for exchanges established by states…thus excluding millions of participants in the Federally run exchange. Hours later, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, in King v. Burwell, declared virtually the opposite.
The legal arguments have been going on for a long time, and there are a lot of great discussions, some which are linked from Nicholas Bagley, Michael Cannon, Jonathan Adler, and others that will take you through the circuitous legal arguments. If you are really interested, this podcast with Mr. Bagley and Mr. Adler could be fruitful for your search to understand more about the debate.
But here are my brief takes on the results of both cases:
1. The Halbig decision is a major boost to the momentum of the case of PPACA opponents.
Despite the 4th circuits ruling taking the steam out of the excitement over Halbig, this has to be a major victory for Misters Cannon and Adler, who were two of the earliest proponents for a case attacking the legal justification for subsidies in the Federal exchanges. Even in the 4th circuit ruling, the court admits the litigants had a fairly reasonable cause to bring the suit, because the text of the law is quite clear that the subsidies are only for state-run exchanges.
This is key for the following reason: it now serves as an impetus for the Supreme Court to take up the case. Although many liberals and others are arguing that because Halbig is likely to lose in the D.C. court on en banc session it will remove some of the justification for the Supreme Court to take up the case, that doesn’t by itself remove the legal and logical conflict of the case.
This doesn’t insure that the case will be resolved by the highest court in the land…but it increases the probability greatly. Make note there are two additional cases also working their way through the District courts. All this from a case where Mr. Adler once remarked he thought the chances of ultimate legal success were very, very low. Not bad, all things considered.
2. Liberal arguments about ‘activist’ and ‘politicized’ judges are silly and naive.
Liberals howled today when the Halbig ruling was released, calling it a ‘highly politicized ruling by activist conservative judges’.
They yet were silent when the 4th circuit, in a ruling that relied highly on political arguments to make their case, ruled the reverse.
Furthermore, liberals are now relying on the en banc review of the case in the D.C. court, precisely because it is political. The reason liberals are so confidant there is because of the large Democrat advantage in that court overall.
I think we can go back and forth about politicization of the courts, and which judges are activist or not. But to rely on that for your legal understanding of the case is simply naive. Both sides have legitimate legal arguments, based in long-standing jurisprudence. This is actually a complicated and difficult case…and to avoid giving credence to either side is being unfair.
3. The ambiguity in the law weakens the government’s case far more than the litigants.
If you read the two rulings today, what you see is the D.C. court relied highly on the actual text of the PPACA. Its argument was that the text was quite clear that the state exchanges were supposed to benefit from subsidies, while the Federal exchange would not.
In the 4th Circuit ruling, they rely heavily on what the law implies. They don’t as much rely on the true text of the law itself. Also note that the 4th circuit struggled to find a contemporary statement from Congress during the debate that clearly stated they wanted subsidies on all exchanges…which in my mind, greatly weakens the government’s case as well.
This is not to say the 4th circuit was incorrect as far is jurisprudence is concerned. Mr. Bagley makes this argument in a piece from Greg Sargent:
As Bagley explains it to me, the core distinction is whether you are arguing that “Congress didn’t really mean what the statute said,” or whether you are arguing that “what the statute says doesn’t actually mean what you think it means.” The former, Bagley says, is a losing argument. But that is not what proponents of the law are arguing. As noted above, the statute does not clearly say that those on the federal exchange don’t get subsidies. Therefore, the question is not, “what does the statute say” — that is not actually clear — but “what does the statute mean.”
The D.C. court also referred to this ambiguity. But they made what is (to me, at least) a more sound argument: that although there is some ambiguity, there is absolutely no clarity in what the law implied. And if the implied intent was uncertain, and the textual intent quite clear…you should rely on the form that is clear. No?
In fact, if you go back to the discussions during the Obamacare debate…there were a few discussions about limiting the Federal exchange subsidies. Also recall: Democrats presumed that all states would be forced to expand Medicaid, and almost all states would create exchanges. The necessity of a Federal exchange was a backstop, and no more. I think the argument that Congress clearly, indisputably intended for subsidies to be available on all exchanges has dubious factual merits. But that is moot; 4th circuit agreed with that argument anyway.
Just to close on this point; how tenuous was the government’s argument that the 4th circuit accepted today? Their ruling states it quite clearly:
“the court is of the opinion that the defendants have the stronger position, although only slightly.”
That is not the statement that one would hold as a bedrock of certainty.
4. Politically, this causes a problem for both parties.
For Democrats, this continues the general public opinion that the ACA was written incompetently, had severe problems in implementation, and to this day remains on shaky ground. Most Americans are not going to dig into the weeds on this; they simply know that courts are ruling both ways, which makes the entire system appear shaky at best.
For Republicans, this is no slam dunk either. For example, if Halbig becomes the law of the land, won’t that place enormous pressure on Republican governors to establish exchanges? At least 5 million people will lose Federal subsidies if the court ruling goes into effect. In this environment, can GOP Governors simply ignore those people? And remember, even without this onslaught of complaints, GOP governors were already accepting Medicaid expansion in one form or another. I find it highly unlikely that the GOP could simply ignore the political pressure on this.
5. All of this was caused by the incompetence of Congress.
When Nancy Pelosi said, “We need to pass it to find out what is in it”, THIS is what she meant. Today, in Halbig…we found out what is, and isn’t, in the Affordable Care Act.
A careful proofreading and understanding of the plan would have resulted in people realizing the contradiction that government was literally, in textual form, preventing the Federal government from providing the same subsidies as the states were allowed to.
Now, liberals are arguing what the intent of the law was. That is a fair argument, but generally, the safest way to understand what was intended in a law? Is to clearly state that intent within the law.
That was not done here.
The rush to passage, the inability to allow public comment, and the negligence of Congress in failing to read their own bill led to this. Simple as that.
Couple points in conclusion.
First off, I respect a lot of people, many named above, that have varied views on the results in this case. Clearly I am on one side of this as far as the legal argument goes, but I think that most of those on the other side are honest participants in the debate. I fully stipulate that both sides have legitimate legal and logical arguments for their position.
That, in turn, is what makes cases like these so hard. There is simply no right answer. It is thoroughly possible that Congress wrote the bill, in the literal sense, not to provide subsidies to those on the Federal exchange. It might even be true they intended that result.
What is also possibly true is, at the very same time, they intended for everyone to have access to those very same subsidies. Simply put, I don’t think those that voted on this bill understood the full extent and connotations of the items they were voting on.
The rest of us should be wary of attacking one set of jurists over the other as well. These courts were put in this terrible position because of the incompetence of Congress; therein lies the blame. That these judges now have to play Solomon ultimately is not their fault.
One final point: as a physician, this entire train wreck is horrible for our patients. Congress committed an act of malpractice by not clarifying these issues before passage. Even if Halbig is overturned (the result I expect and predict), that doesn’t really truly solve the problem, because the law remains ambiguous on this and numerous other issues. We really should demand better from our political leaders, and hold them to account when they make such enormous blunders. I doubt that will happen however.
To those who say that it is none of their bosses business what happens in their bedroom I say that I agree with you 100%. Your boss should not be able to tell you who you can sleep with and what kind of contraception you can use. Because what happens in your bedroom is nobody’s business but your own nobody else should be forced to pay for what happens in your bedroom.
Some forms of contraception can have health benefits in addition to preventing pregnancy. Hobby Lobby understand this and so they cover 16 out of 20 kinds of birth control. The only kind they don’t cover are the kinds that terminate the pregnancy after the fertilization has already occurred such as the morning after pill and abortion.
Many on the left want to make laws based on what they like without regard for the right of their fellow citizens to choose. Conservatives want people to be free to make their own choices without interference from the government as long as those choices don’t take away someone elses choice. Some people, including the owners of Hobby Lobby, think that abortion takes away all the future choices of the baby by ending the baby’s life. People who are ok with abortion generally don’t think that the baby is a life at the point of abortion. This is where the two sides generally disagree, and disagreement is ok.
Let’s err on the side of freedom for both sides:
–The woman is free to have an abortion if she chooses
– Hobby Lobby is free from having to pay for it
The recent surge of illegal immigrant children across our southern border is a humanitarian tragedy that is only now being understood. Almost 50,000 children, without adult supervision, have been captured since October, and most project that number will rise to 90,000 by September.
Note that this is not some small variation; that is a 100% increase over the same period last year.
This surge did not occur in a vacuum. President Obama has before and after his re-election promised the loosening of immigration rules on deportation, and has widely announced that he wanted to sign executive orders furthering those ideals. He first signed the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals memorandum in June 2012, which directs US Immigration officials to practice ‘prosecutorial discretion when it comes to illegal undocumented youth immigrants.
These moves, unsurprisingly, have not gone unnoticed south of the border. In fact, in many countries in Central and South America, there are editorials and TV broadcasts that have touted this change. This has often been misinterpreted as a true amnesty, and thus many uneducated families have made the decision that if the door has swung wide open for their children, they can’t miss the opportunity to jump through that door.
And that has resulted in a change of behavior across the board. Unaccompanied minors now are surging the border, in hopes to benefit from Obama’s DACA, even if this is an incorrect understanding of the rules the President signed into force. But even more so, those children are purposefully being apprehended by immigration officials. This from USA Today:
One key difference the recent arrivals are displaying from their predecessors: They’re not bothering to sneak deeper into Texas, opting instead to turn themselves in and allow U.S. policy toward immigrant youth decide their fate, said Chris Cabrera, a McAllen-based Border Patrol agent and vice president of the local chapter of the National Border Patrol Council. “We’re seeing record numbers of children coming across,” he said. “We’re dealing with so many of them turning themselves in that it makes it hard for our agents to focus on anything else.”
Legally of course this is not what President Obama intended. But the logical result of his policies is not surprising whatsoever. Uneducated, non-English speaking people across the world heard what they wanted to hear; a President basically removing the major blockade for their children to enter the United States. Did Mr. Obama really expect a different result?
“They should be sent back as soon as it can be determined who responsible adults in their families are, because there are concerns whether all of them should be sent back,” Clinton said. “But I think all of them who can be should be reunited with their families.”
This is a major quandary for the Obama Administration, who has made the ‘virtual’ DREAM act one of their second term priorities. Furthermore, there are practical realities: once we allow the children across the border, our laws give them specific protections. Here from Frank Sharry of America’s Voice, via Greg Sargent:
“It’s easy to say they should all be sent home. But that’s really hard to do. The law requires them to get their day in court, and many will qualify for some form of relief. You have to make sure these kids have an opportunity to present their situation in court, because they are more like refugees than immigrants. Making sure they show up would require holding all these kids in huge detention centers — rather than releasing them to family — and a massive infusion in judges to relieve the backlog of the courts, neither of which is possible under current budgetary and political restraints.”
We all agree with this. There is a balance between the law and being humane. The problem here is…Obama shifted the balanc, and therein lies the basic problem with the entire episode.
Democrats have long believed that loosening immigration rules, followed by enforcement of hiring and border protections, would stem the tide of illegal immigration. However, they get the chronological order completely backwards.
This story shows the fundamental flaw in their logic, and why their plan will never work. Once you loosen the rules on illegal immigrants, foreigners who are desperately poor and have no other choices will make the choice that has now open to them. In this case, President Obama’s order, unintentionally but still forcefully, shifted the dynamic in such a way to make it worthwhile for hundreds of thousands of parents to send their children unaccompanied across the US border, in hopes that Mr. Obama’s administration would largely keep their promise of not deporting the majority of them, and thus, giving them a backdoor legal status into the United States.
Furthermore, because of the laws already existing, we must give those children due process. In other words, because of the already existing backlog of cases, many of these minors could spend months, if not years potentially, in holding camps. Is that humane?
Liberals will argue that was never Obama’s intent. Maybe so, but the results are the same. This goes to the heart of the matter on comprehensive immigration reform. I support immigration reform, and even support the DREAM act in theory, but the entire system will fail until you secure the border. No legalization process or amnesty will long survive the reality that our border is quite open. If you don’t secure the border…the surge of immigrants is the result.
This entire episode in liberal experimentation with social engineering proves that.
First, if you think this is going to be a hit piece on Barack Obama…keep reading, because that is precisely not what this.
What this is, fundamentally, is an analysis of where our global fight against existential terror groups stands.
It is not a pretty picture.
Even before this weeks events in Iraq, we have seen a resurgence of Islamists all over the world.
In African, numerous groups have seen a comeback, most famous being that Baku Haram in Nigeria, who kidnapped several hundred young girls, and led to a Twitter phenomenon that so far has failed to find and return those girls safely.
In Libya, the West’s strategy has failed completely, as the majority of the country is now controlled by rebels, and the Capital itself has come under attack several times; Libya is on the verge of being a failed state.
Syria has long been a failed state, as the Civil War rages on. Thousands have died since the West signed a chemical weapons deal with Assad. The chemical weapons deal is a nice public relations coup, but will not change the killing one iota.
In Afghanistan, the Taliban are apparently biding their time until the US leaves, so they can restart their Jihad against everyone. And they staged one of their biggest coups in years, by receiving 5 key leaders back from Guantanamo Bay, at the price of one single American Soldier.
And the Taliban, along with the Hiqqani network, staged an underreported attack on Karachi airport in Pakistan, which signals new trouble for that nuclear state.
Iraq’s troubles, with ISIS and other Islamist groups, marching toward Baghdad is just another symptom of the larger problem.
Now, people’s instincts are to do one of two things: blame George W. Bush for everything and do nothing; or blame President Barack Obama for everything, and bomb everyone.
Both are incorrect and illogical.
Let us stipulate, at least in Iraq, that George W. Bush shares a lion’s share of the blame. I don’t want to get into the larger fight about the historical record of the war; but Bush owns this, for all time.
That said, that doesn’t mean Mr. Obama should simply play the tit-for-tat game, point at Bush, and say he wins the game. This is no game. This is not a time for political theater.
Let us put this into perspective, shall we? ISIS is a group that Ayman al-Zawahiri, Al Qaeda’s titular leader, thought was too extreme for him, and thus he severed ties with that organization. He once thought the group was a liability…the the ‘Al Qaeda brand’. Think about that for a second. To allow them to just walk into Baghdad would be a horrible failure of U.S. foreign policy.
Furthermore, let us recall that Osama Bin Laden’s key strategic goal was not to attack the United States. His key goal, all along, was to create a caliphate in the Middle East, that can grow and then present a true threat to the West. ISIS is on the verge of accomplishing just that.
The question now becomes, as we look at this global surge of islamic terror rising, and then see one event in which we could, at the very least, stem that tide in the hopes that more moderate and democratic forces can take charge, should we just ignore it because it is inconvenient?
Obama has only limited tools at his disposal. Putting troops on the ground is not an option anyone is considering, nor should they. There is much debate about whether drone or air strikes would do the trick. That is a military question I cannot answer.
I think the war in Iraq was a mistake. I think we should be far more non-interventionist in our foreign policy as time passes. But ignoring the threat posed here is foolish as well…9/11 taught us that.
I for one hope the President takes decisive, albeit limited, action here. He has a host of terrible choices, and many if not most of the problems in this specific case were not of his making. However, that should not excuse him from having to make the choice that is needed now, nor should it do so in the future.
Additionally, I hope the country quickly unites and backs the President if he takes quick action. This is a moment for unity, not for politics. There are real costs to failing here; and people who don’t understand that have learned nothing from the last two decades of foreign policy failures.
What will GOP learn from Cantor’s defeat?
Likely, not much.
The establishment has a difficult time analyzing and adapting to such ground shifting events. And make no mistake: Eric Cantor’s defeat was earth shattering. He becomes the first Majority leader ever to lose a primary race. EVER. And he is the highest ranking party member to lose a primary race since 1899.
In my lifetime, there is not really an analogous primary result. People have compared this to then Senate Majority leader Tom Daschle’s Senate election loss, but that was a general election race…a whole different ballgame.
Fundamentally, Cantor was not a bad conservative. I still believe he is a good man, and a good Republican. In fact, he had terrific ratings from conservative groups. He was for lower taxes, smaller government…generally a pretty strong conservative.
What Cantor lost in recent years was any connection to the base…and his own constituents. And ultimately…that matters. For years, people in his district felt he spent far more time catering to Washington D.C. interests than their own. Even before this cycle, Cantor was no loved in the district, because…he made no effort TO be loved.
My faith in the Republican Party’s leadership is at an all-time low, and the voters of VA-7 seemed to agree with my assessment. This is a party that spends an inordinate time worrying about what Democrats, the media, and others say about it…instead of listening it its own members, and actually moving the needle on conservative policies to move the country forward.
If the GOP leadership walks away from this event with only excuses why Cantor lost, it will further deepen the divide in the party, and furthermore, will do nothing to further the conservative cause. The party doesn’t necessarily need to move right or center to win elections. More than anything, it needs to listen to the American people, focus on the few issues people care about…and then fight.
I don’t see that happening, because we still require a leadership purge within the party. There are many things our party must help the country transform on, whether it be the economy, taxes, immigration or health care. But our current leadership cadre might be out of their depths on those issues. And fundamentally, Cantor’s loss was simply a symptom of that larger problem.
Why do we have a Veterans Administration?
Fundamentally, this is the key question we should be grappling with, since it became public that dozens of Veterans died waiting to get health care in the Phoenix VA system. And this is far from an isolated incident; this is an epidemic that exists in facilities all across the nation. VAs have long been unresponsive, uncaring, and unwilling to our nation’s military veterans.
President Obama campaigned on this issue in 2007. In his 2008 platform, he stated the following, among other things:
Allow All Veterans Back into the VA: Reverse the 2003 ban on enrolling modest-income veterans, which has denied care to a million veterans.
Strengthen VA Care: Make the VA a leader of national health care reform so that veterans get the best care possible. Improve care for polytrauma vision impairment, prosthetics, spinal cord injury, aging, and women’s health.
Has this been the case?
Of course not. Although Obama and Democrats have focused on health care reform, they did little to change the fundamental broken system within the Veterans Administration. In fact, if anything, letting the problem largely fester has worsened issues, while blindly increasing funding, likely has led to more morbidity and mortality in some dysfunctional facilities.
The problem with all of Obama’s promises at this point is that none of it accepts a fundamental, basic fact: the VA has long been broken. These problems existed long before Barack Obama rose to the Presidency. It is a system whose internal dysfunction cannot simply be fixed by added funding or minor reforms. And it is highly unlikely that the bureaucrats in this administration are going to fix a long-standing problem without massive changes that other bureaucrats in other administrations failed to accomplish.
I do believe the VA could be fixed. It would take an extensive, persistent effort to change the management, culture, philosophy, and underlying tenets of warped system.
I fundamentally don’t believe this administration is willing take on that challenge.
Are they willing to accept that public sector unions have been a major source of the dysfunction? Are they willing to accept the payment model breeds inefficiency? Do they understand that there is layer after layer of administrators in the system whose only job is self survival in the bureaucratic mire that is the VA?
That is why I ask a simple question: Why do we have a Veterans Administration? The original cause was to provide health care access to our military heroes, because there was no other easy access. However, with the Affordable Care Act, we now have another method to provide that care, do we not?
So then, why do we maintain a duplicate system that, as can easily be demonstrated, not working?
Surely, there are some portions of the VA that will have to be maintained. Special units that focus on battlefield injuries, as stated in Obama’s platform, which no private hospital would be able to deal with, must be maintained. I am sure there are other examples.
But for the vast majority of our nation’s Veterans, access to the private sector would be far more responsive and sufficient for their needs. The VA could simply provide them ample vouchers (on top of the subsidies already available through the ACA) to fund the maximum coverage on the Obamacare exchanges…and allow them to enjoy the fruits of our private sector health care system.
So why do we have a Veterans Administration? I bet this question has never been asked or answered in the West Wing or Oval Office. And that fundamentally is why this administration will never succeed in fixing this problem.