Life comes at you fast.
Last month, I wrote a Daily Caller column urging President Donald Trump to step in and eliminate horrific and useless experimentation on puppies at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
Following my op-ed and mounting criticism from the veterans’ community, conservative media, GOP pundits, faith leaders including Pat Robertson, Congress, and determined taxpayer advocacy group White Coat Waste Project, the Daily Caller was the first to get VA Secretary David Shulkin on-the-record saying, “I am not a strong believer in the need for canine research.”
This was a breakthrough given Shulkin’s unequivocal support for the VA’s dog testing just a few months ago. Some veterans’ advocates speculate that Shulkin was originally led astray on this issue by rogue staffers seeking to undermine him, and that he’s now trying to right the ship.
Fair enough. But, so far, Shulkin’s actions don’t match his words. In his Daily Caller interview, he proposed drastic restrictions on any future dog testing and indicates that he’s implemented a new policy requiring his personal approval for any VA dog testing going forward.
Sadly, like many things the VA says, even this modest reform isn’t real. The very weak policy circulated to media by the VA actually states that the agency’s top animal testing chief—who is the VA’s lead dog testing defender and has been caught by the Daily Caller lying to the media and taxpayers about the studies —will be the decider. There’s no mention of the Secretary in the entire policy. Shulkin’s claim that he now has the final say and that the VA’s new “policy” will protect against waste and abuse are simply #FakeNews.
This policy is just more VA bureaucracy to avoid real accountability and protect entrenched staff and programs, and it flies in the face of President Trump’s efforts to drain the VA swamp. Its no secret that VA’s toxic culture and bureaucracy has allowed inept and dangerous VA staff to remain on the payroll and butcher and maim veterans. Its even retained a “reckless” VA doctor who was banned from dog testing for continually botching surgeries and rewarded him with a $340,000 salary, raises and bonuses.
As I mentioned in my last column about this, this is an incredibly easy scandal to resolve, especially now with Shulkin on board and other broad support for cutting wasteful VA dog testing. More than a dozen national veterans’ organizations, including AMVETS which has over 250,000 members, support the move. A majority of veterans support it. And new national polling commissioned by White Coat Waste Project shows that two-thirds of American voters—and a staggering 71 percent of GOP voters—want the VA to cut its sickening dog testing program that is not paying dividends for our nation’s veterans.
Even after all of the VA’s recent scandals, Shulkin says that the Trump White House has faith in him. For the moment, I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, too.
Secretary Shulkin: Demonstrate the leadership skills that President Trump strongly believes you possess and take an ax to your agency’s widely-condemned canine abuse.
Roger Stone is a legendary Republican political consultant and a veteran of many national Republican presidential campaigns. He’s also the men’s fashion correspondent for The Daily Caller and editor of StoneColdTruth.com.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.