Politics

Republicans And Vets’ Groups Lob Four Serious Objections To Hillary’s VA Plan

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Jonah Bennett Contributor

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s plan to reform the Department of Veterans Affairs has attracted four serious criticisms from Republicans and veterans’ groups.

First, GOP Sen. John McCain has complained that Clinton has politicized the debate by slamming Republicans, instead of focusing on the issues. Second, it’s not clear that Clinton’s past record on veterans is as praiseworthy as she claims. Third, critics say her reform plans either ape proposals from VA Secretary Robert McDonald, or are vague at best. Fourth, Clinton’s recent bold proclamations on vets’ issues are little more than a cynical attempt to erase her downplaying of the VA scandal on MSNBC.

The first criticism surrounds her attempt to politicize the debate, which caught the attention of GOP Sen. John McCain, who slammed Clinton in response. McCain said that Hillary made a big mistake by saying that Republicans want to privatize the VA and supposedly throw veterans to the mercy of the private insurance market.

Privatizing the VA is nothing more than a betrayal, Clinton said, letting onlookers at her campaign stop in New Hampshire draw the conclusion that Republicans want to betray veterans.

“For her to accuse me and my Republican colleagues of wanting to ‘privatize’ the VA is, of course, inaccurate and offensive,” McCain said, according to The Hill. (RELATED: Hillary Issues Massive VA Reform, Promises Accountability At All Levels)

The second criticism concerns Clinton’s past record helping veterans. As a 2008 presidential candidate, Clinton blasted the Bush administration for failing to care properly for veterans, but during the 2014 scandal, which erupted first in Phoenix and resulted in the death of veterans, Clinton was virtually silent. She referred to the Bush administration’s approach to veterans as “cold-hearted.”

During her 2008 campaign, she also claimed that she pioneered a bipartisan effort to expand health care for veterans and increase access, but Factcheck.org tells a different story. According to the site, Clinton completely exaggerated her platform. She said that National Guard members did not have health insurance.

“In fact, active-duty Guard and Reserve troops already were covered by federal insurance, and four out of five non-active-duty guardsmen and reservists already were covered by their civilian employers or other sources,” Factcheck noted. “Clinton did help expand and enhance health care coverage for reservists but can’t claim credit for creating coverage where none existed, as this ad implies.”

She also voted against legislation to provide a living stipend to vets studying as part of the GI Bill. In 2007, she voted against a spending bill which would have slotted almost $1.8 billion into medical care for veterans. Before that, in 2006, she voted against a plan to add $20 million to care facilities.

The third criticism points out that her recommendations for major reform repeat unsuccessful proposals forwarded by VA Secretary Robert McDonald, or otherwise fall victim to vagueness.

Concerned Veterans for America CEO Pete Hegseth blasted Hillary’s plan for using words like “accountability” and “reform” without backing them up with serious solutions.

Instead of putting forth proposals that would challenge the status quo and make the VA more responsive to what veterans want, Mrs. Clinton recycles the same-old tired ideas that have continually been proposed by policymakers and have failed repeatedly to fundamentally change the broken VA health care system,” Hegseth said in a statement.

Additionally, Hillary had no comment on existing accountability legislation in Congress. She provided no specifics on what measures or legislation she would support to achieve that goal. And although Clinton forwarded the idea of allowing veterans to seek care outside of the VA, according to Hegseth, “VA bureaucrats would clearly retain the ability to dictate how and when veterans get health care through their VA benefits – including whether or not they can access care outside the VA.”

“Her doubling down on the system that has failed our veterans, sends the nation a very clear message: if you liked the VA under President Obama, you will love it under President Hillary Clinton.”

The fourth criticism is that Tuesday’s big splash and the announcement Monday that “this election is about our veterans” is really just a cynical attempt at covering up her previous comments on MSNBC downplaying VA scandals and blaming the department’s sordid reputation as a product of Republican propaganda.

“It became a political necessity,” Hegseth told reporters Wednesday, referring to her plan.

“Hillary Clinton’s comments minimizing the VA scandal were troubling enough, but her record running the State Department – where whistleblowers were intimidated, investigations were interfered with, and billions of taxpayer dollars were wasted – should give every veteran pause about her plans,” Bob Carey, RNC director of military and veterans engagement, said in a statement.

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