In last week's Liberty Update, we highlighted the Heritage Foundation's 2022 Index of Economic Freedom…
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Image of the Day: More Economic Freedom = Higher Standard of Living

In last week's Liberty Update, we highlighted the Heritage Foundation's 2022 Index of Economic Freedom, which shows that Joe Biden has dragged the U.S. down to 22nd, our lowest rank ever (we placed 4th in the first Index in 1995, and climbed back up from 18th to 12th under President Trump).  As we noted, among the Index's invaluable metrics is how it demonstrates the objective correlation between more economic freedom and higher citizen standards of living, which this graphic illustrates:

 …[more]

May 19, 2022 • 12:53 PM

Liberty Update

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VA Scandal Scapegoating: Don’t Blame Insufficient Spending, Bush or Iraq and Afghan Wars Print
By Timothy H. Lee
Thursday, June 05 2014
Since 2003, the VA’s budget has nearly tripled from just over $50 billion to $154 billion this year. By comparison, patient caseload during that same period has increased just 30%.

The burgeoning Department of Veterans Affairs scandal presages the dysfunctional future of ObamaCare, and it serves to erode what remains of Americans’ faith in the big-government model more generally. 

For that reason, liberals find themselves desperate to rationalize by trotting out their usual litany of scapegoats:  insufficient spending, the Afghan and Iraq wars, George W. Bush and even the Koch brothers. 

“This predates my presidency,” pleaded Barack Obama in implicitly blaming Bush.  “When I was in the Senate,” he said, “I was on the Veterans Affairs Committee, and I heard firsthand veterans who were not getting the kinds of services and benefits that they had earned.” 

If that’s true, then why did he claim while announcing Eric Shinseki’s resignation that, “bad news did not get to him, and the structures weren’t in place for him to identify this problem quickly and fix it?”  Indeed, Obama had specifically acknowledged the problem in speeches each year of his presidency, promising to address the matter. 

Despite that awareness of the problem, the failures and mistreatment only festered since he first learned of them.  Yet it’s still somehow Bush’s fault? 

For her part, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D – California) scapegoated the Afghan and Iraq wars: 

“And so, we go into a war in Afghanistan, leave Afghanistan for Iraq with unfinished business in Afghanistan.  Ten years later, we have all of these additional veterans.  In the past five years, two million more veterans needing benefits from the VA.  That’s a huge, huge increase.” 

And apparently unwilling to allow Harry Reid (D – Nevada) to outdo him in this regard, Senator Bernie Sanders (I – Vermont) even sought to blame the Koch brothers: 

“Right now, we’re dealing with the Veterans Administration.  I’m Chairman of the Veterans Committee.  Let me tell you some news.  The Veterans Administration provides very high-quality healthcare.  Period…  There is right now, as we speak, a concerted effort to undermine the VA.  So the point is, you have government entity itself, Social Security, enormously popular, Medicare, enormously popular, Postal Service, enormously popular, VA, popular.  What are the problems?  The problems are, is, that all of these are large, government institutions and you have folks out there now, Koch brothers and others, who want to radically change the nature of society and either make major cuts in all of these institutions, or maybe do away with them entirely.” 

Those rationalizations, however, do not withstand scrutiny. 

In terms of spending, the VA “has seen its funding grow faster than any other government department in recent years,” notes Damian Paletta of The Wall Street Journal.  Given our bloated federal budget, that speaks volumes.  Since 2003, the VA’s budget has nearly tripled from just over $50 billion to $154 billion this year.  By comparison, patient caseload during that same period has increased just 30%. 

In fact, according to research by Patrick Howley of The Daily Caller, the VA has been running a surplus for five years: 

“VA expects to carry over $450 million in medical-care funding from fiscal year 2014 to fiscal year 2015.  VA received its full requested medical care appropriation of $54.6 billion this fiscal year, which is more than $10 billion more than it received four years ago.  This is part of an ongoing trend.  VA carried over $1.449 billion in medical-care funding from fiscal year 2010 to 2011, $1.163 billion from fiscal year 2011 to fiscal year 2012, $637 million from fiscal year 2012 to 2013, and $543 million from fiscal year 2013 to 2014.” 

Nor is it accurate to scapegoat the Afghan and Iraq wars. 

The VA’s increased caseload is actually more attributable to aging veterans from World War II, Korea and Vietnam, particularly as the Baby Boomers reach retirement age.  By period of service, those three wars and peacetime periods account for nearly 16 million of our veteran population, compared to 6.7 million for the Afghan and Iraq wars.  In addition to ongoing care, older veterans also accounted for the majority of new beneficiaries, as Mr. Paletta noted: 

“And for all the challenges presented by veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, the largest share of new beneficiaries consists of older veterans from prior wars.  The nonpartisan Congressional Research Service reported in 2012 that of the 272,509 people who began receiving disability benefits in 2011, 52.9% were 55 or older.” 

Thus, the VA scandal shouldn’t be blamed on Bush, lack of funding or the Afghan and Iraq wars. 

But advocates of more government-run healthcare will likely continue to do so, in their attempt to permanently impose a system that will bring the same delays, rationing, lack of market accountability, incompetence rewarded, lack of recourse and patients trapped in the system to the rest of the population. 

Quiz Question   
How many days does it take the average U.S. household to consume as much electrical power as one single bitcoin transaction?
More Questions
Notable Quote   
 
"We all know what happens when a tree falls in an empty forest. What happens when a democracy emerges unscathed from a purported vile racist threat to its very existence?Pretty much the same thing, it turns out.The surge in the early vote in Georgia shows that all the smears about the state's new voting law, repeated by everyone from the president of the United States on down, were complete nonsense…[more]
 
 
—Rich Lowry, Editor-in-Chief of National Review
— Rich Lowry, Editor-in-Chief of National Review
 
Liberty Poll   

Should any U.S. government agency have a function called the "Disinformation Governance Board" (See Homeland Security, Department of)?