Usually, once a presidential candidate reaches the party nominee stage, they’ve got all their policies, plans and platforms clearly defined, after months of trial-and-error revision during the primaries. The usual candidate can briefly and succinctly tell you how they are going to address a specific problem or issue, as well as the specific problem areas within that issue, and details of what they will actually attempt in order to resolve them.
That’s what a usual, normal candidate would do. But Donald Trump isn’t the usual candidate. Donald Trump is unusual and abnormal. And he continues to offer nothing but vague braggadocio and undefined platitudes for how he, personally, is going to fix the world.
Trump’s latest laundry list of everything but how is aimed at the Veterans Administration. Trump’s released a 10-point plan of how he’s going to fix the V.A., and as is always the case with Trump, it’s a load of vagaries, delegations and “trust me, it’ll get done” empty assurances. And it’s not even a new set of ideas; four of them already exist in exactly the same manner and execution that Trump describes.
But, as usual, there now no explanation of *HOW* anything gets done; just more of Trump’s trademark “Believe me, it’ll be yuuuuuge” nonsense.
“I will appoint a Secretary of Veterans Affairs who will make it his or her personal mission to clean up the VA. The Secretary’s sole mandate will be to serve our Veterans – not bureaucrats, not politicians, but Veterans. Amazingly, President Obama’s VA Secretary recently downplayed concerns about waiting times by saying that people also wait in line at Disneyland.”
Aside from there already being a Secretary of Veterans Affairs, what will he or she “clean up” specifically, and how will they do it? What are the specific target areas for immediate and long-term improvement? What goals and milestones have you identified?
“I am going to use every lawful authority to remove and discipline federal employees or managers who fail our Veterans or breach the public trust.”
- Who determines that breach and its severity? How will the due process work?
“I am going to ask Congress to pass legislation that ensures the Secretary of Veterans Affairs has the authority to remove or discipline any employee who risks the health, safety or well-being of any Veteran.”
The V.A. already has that authority in its charter. What are you going to do differently, specifically?
“I am going to appoint a commission to investigate all the wrongdoing at the VA and then present those findings to Congress as the basis for bold legislative reform.”
- What activities will you investigate? How do you specifically define “all the wrongdoing”? How do you define “bold legislative reform” specifically?
“I am going to make sure the honest and dedicated people in the VA have their jobs protected, and are put in line for promotions.”
Great. On what grounds will you determine promotion eligibility? How will you accurately and unbiasedly guage people’s honesty and dedication? Will this job protection apply unilaterally to any and all VA employees, regardless of race, position or influence?
“I will create a private White House Hotline – that is answered by a real person 24 hours a day – to ensure that no valid complaint about VA wrongdoing falls through the cracks. I will instruct my staff that if a valid complaint is not addressed that the issue be brought directly to me, and I will pick up the phone and fix it myself, if need be. That’s a promise.”
How will that hotline differ and distinguish itself from the existing V.A. hotline, and how will you ensure that it doesn’t simply become another layer of broken bureaucracy? What level of training and directly applicable veterans’ assistance training and experience will the people manning that hotline be required to have?
“We are going to stop giving bonuses to people for wasting money, and start giving bonuses to people for improving service, saving lives and cutting waste. If an employee finds a smart way to save a large amount of money that also creates better outcomes for our Veterans, then a small, responsible portion of the money saved will be given as a one-time bonus and the rest will be returned to taxpayers.”
How will those better ideas get submitted and viewed? Who will have the authority to approve or reject them? What are the specific criteria that constitutes a “smart way”?
“We are going to reform our visa programs to ensure American Veterans are in the front, not back, of the line.”
What line? On what evidence are you claiming that American veterans are at the back of this line? Are you saying that non-citizens are receiving V.A. care and benefits before veterans are? Where is the documented proof of this?
“We are going to increase the number of mental health care professionals, and increase outreach to Veterans outside of the system.”
How will you fund this expansion? Are you committing to a V.A. budget increase? Define “outside of the system.”
“We are going to ensure every Veteran in America has the choice to seek care at the VA, or to seek private medical care paid for by our government. Never again will we allow a Veteran to suffer or die waiting for the care they so richly deserve.”
We already have that choice, but it is largely influenced by the physical location of V.A. hospitals, treatment centers and clinics. Are you committing to building more V.A. centers? How are you going to manage caseloads? Are you committing to directing the pharmaceutical industry to negotiate lower drug and material costs?
Even Trump’s “worst case scenario” solution proves that he hasn’t got the feigntest idea of how actual structured government works. “I will instruct my staff that if a valid complaint is not addressed, that the issue be brought directly to me,” Trump said. “And I will pick up the phone and fix it myself if I have to.”
You’d better plan to have that phone surgically implanted in your skull, Donnie. Because your “I’ll fix it myself” solution is going to keep you busy 53 hours a day. Fortunately, there’s plenty of room inside your skull for a phone, a fax machine, and, of course, a copying machine for preparing speeches.
Trump has repeatedly claimed that “over 300,000 veterans have died waiting for Veterans healthcare.” That number would be appalling if A) it were true, B) it were supported by facts, and C) not already debunked rated as “Mostly False” by Politifact.org and “False” by Snopes.com. You see, there’s this little problem Trump has with numbers; he expects them add up to whatever he’s saying at the moment, and in the case of 300,000 dead veterans, it just doesn’t.
A report by the independent U.S. Inspector General Office found that 307,173 dead people were listed last year on a VA database as having pending status with the agency. But shabby records make a detailed dissection of that number impossible. Investigators said that some of those people were not veterans; not all of them were seeking health care or necessarily any VA service; and some of them died before 1998, when the database began. Oh … and more than 38,000 of them died before 1988, as far back as unarchived paper records can tell, all showing on the database as “pending healthcare from the V.A.”
There’s no question that the Veterans Administration and it’s processes are grossly overdue for a smart and comprehensive overhaul. But expecting Trump to do that is simply foolish. He wouldn’t even hand over $6 Million in funds raised *FOR* veterans until he was shamed into paying up by the Washington Post. Donald J. Trump doesn’t give a damn about veterans because there’s no way to make money off of them … unless he privatizes the V.A. and hands it to a convenient subsidiary of Trump Global Best Company in the History of Business Enterprises.