For GOP, VA scandal a crisis with substance, DEM actions don’t match rhetoric

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from USAToday,

With the Department of Veterans Affairs scandal, the GOP now has a crisis to dig into that has some substance.

Heading toward the November midterm elections, Republicans have made clear that they plan to take aim at Democrats by striking at President Obama over his administration’s handling of 2012 attack on the U.S. facility in Benghazi, Libya, and by continuing their assault on the president’s signature health care law.

Within the Republican ranks, there is wariness about making Benghazi a centerpiece issue. Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., who is set to retire, reportedly warned colleagues after the GOP-controlled House voted earlier this month to investigate the 2012 Benghazi terrorist attack that they could be headed down a “rabbit hole.”

And after dozens of GOP attempts at repealing Obamacare, polls increasingly show that Americans — while still not completely sold on the health care overhaul — are more interested in hearing about fixes than repeal.

Unlike those issues, the growing outrage over revelations that VA officials were keeping secret admissions wait lists at hospital and falsifying data to hide how long veterans were waiting to see doctors is an issue that has the potential to resonate with voters outside the Beltway.

Obama publicly addressed the issue at length Wednesday for the first time since the furor erupted in April with allegations, first reported by The Arizona Republic and CNN, that secret waiting lists had been created at the VA in Phoenix to hide delays in care and that as many as 40 veterans have died while awaiting a doctor.

The president didn’t mince words as he expressed his outrage. “When I hear allegations of misconduct — any misconduct — whether it’s allegations of VA staff covering up long wait times or cooking the books, I will not stand for it,” he said. “Not as Commander-in-Chief, but also not as an American.”

“Unfortunately, this administration has fallen short in providing the kind of care that our veterans have earned,” Rep. John Barrow of Georgia, a perennial vulnerable Democrat, said in a statement. “While I don’t think a change in leadership will immediately solve the serious problems that plague the VA, I do think it’s time to give someone else an opportunity to lead the agency and begin the rebuilding process to ensure these issues never happen again.”

Obama’s call for patience while Shinseki and White House deputy chief of staff Rob Nabors conduct a review of VA policies was also met with scorn by Republicans.

Going back to his first run for the White House, Obama promised to make veterans’ health care a top priority for his presidency. He has spoken in past about the “moral obligation” that the country has on the issue. And on Wednesday, Obama eloquently offered that the “most searing moments” of his presidency have been his visits with troops that have “left part of themselves on the battlefield.”

The problem Obama — and by extension his fellow Democrats — now face is getting their actions on this issue to match the rhetoric.

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