Team Obama warned on vets scandal in 2008

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Politics,Chris Stirewalt,Power Play

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Buzz Cut:
• Team Obama warned on Vets scandal in 2008
• Prevent defense on display in GOP primaries
• Power Play: Moran looks to expand the map for NRSC
• McDaniel missteps over supporter’s misconduct
• Somebody please say that was a mushroom

WashTimes: “The Obama administration received clear notice more than five years ago that VA medical facilities were reporting inaccurate waiting times and experiencing scheduling failures that threatened to deny veterans timely health care — problems that have turned into a growing scandal. Veterans Affairs officials warned the Obama-Biden transition team in the weeks after the 2008 presidential election that the department shouldn't trust the wait times that its facilities were reporting. ‘This is not only a data integrity issue in which [Veterans Health Administration] reports unreliable performance data; it affects quality of care by delaying — and potentially denying — deserving veterans timely care,’ the officials wrote. The briefing materials, obtained by The Washington Times through the Freedom of Information Act, make clear that the problems existed well before Mr. Obama took office, dating back at least to the Bush administration.”

[“This report and prior reports indicate that the problems and causes associated with scheduling, waiting times and wait lists are systemic throughout the VHA.” – transition briefing memo for the incoming Obama administration.]

Feel like you’ve seen this movie before? We are told that the president is angry and White House officials are touting a high-level firing – but the firing isn’t a firing and the anger doesn’t seem to translate into action. The Obama administration scandal maintenance playbook might need an update for the growing outrage over mistreatment of veterans at government hospitals, but so far the approach seems nearly identical to the White House strategy a year ago in combating the revelation that the IRS had targeted the president’s political enemies. On Sunday, White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough told CBS News that his boss was “madder than hell. In May 2013, President Obama said “Americans are right to be angry about [IRS targeting], and I am angry about it.” In the same speech the president announced the resignation of acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller. It turned out, though, that Miller was planning to leave his post the next month anyway. Now, the administration is talking tough about the “resignation” of Dr. Robert Petzel as the VA’s second in command was announced. Guess what? Petzel was already slated to retire. It took only nine months for the president to go from surprised anger to laughing assurances that there wasn’t “even a smidgen of corruption” at the IRS. While the president’s rage was abating over the abuse of his political detractors, his team was working hard to knock down and muddy the story. This time, good luck with that. When the victims are veterans rather than conservative activists, it will be much harder to convince Democrats to blow off evidence of corruption.

[A whistleblowing doctor tells the Daily Beast that an Albuquerque veterans hospital kept a secret waiting list to hide delays. According to the doctor, veterans suffering from serious heart conditions, gangrene, and even brain tumors waited months to receive treatment.]

WSJ: “Tuesday’s [Republican] primary… Kentucky, along with others in Georgia, Idaho and Oregon, represents the most important moment on the 2014 calendar to date in the tug of war between GOP leaders and conservative activists. From the beginning,[Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell] has highlighted his conservative stances, but never at the expense of his main message—that his perch as a party leader gives Kentucky more clout in Congress… Last year, a stampede of conservatives declared their intent to challenge dozens of Republicans in Congress. But at this point, many of those campaigns have fizzled, as incumbents responded in various ways. … In campaign stops over the weekend, Mr. McConnell, 72 years old, spoke frequently about how his stature allows him to deliver power and prestige to Kentucky. Of his extended tenure, Mr. McConnell told one crowd: ‘People look at that I guess one of two ways: They either conclude you've been there too long, or you're indispensable. And obviously, I’m hoping for the latter’… In Georgia, GOP leaders and their allies in the business community appear on track for their goal of preventing either Rep. Paul Broun or Rep. Phil Gingrey, among the most conservative candidates in the race, from advancing to a runoff to fill the seat of retiring Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss. That race has become a contest among three Republicans who are viewed as candidates with broader appeal—businessman David Perdue, who leads most polls, followed by former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel and Rep. Jack Kingston.”

[The Savannah Georgia Morning News examines how geography and voter loyalties will determine the outcome of Tuesday’s primary.]

Nothing to crow about for Bevin - WSJ: “In Kentucky, the latest poll sponsored by local media outlets shows Mr. McConnell leading [challenger Matt Bevin] 55% to 35%, even as the survey showed Kentucky voters overall hold a dim view of Mr. McConnell. Fifty-six percent of the roughly 1,700 registered voters who were interviewed disapproved of the job Mr. McConnell is doing in the Senate, while 49% had an unfavorable opinion of him, versus the 29% who viewed him favorably. Early general-election polls show Mr. McConnell in a statistical dead heat with the expected Democratic nominee, Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes…”

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Chris Stirewalt
FOX News