By: Noah Rothman (Mediaite)
The sprawling Department of Veterans Affairs’ unwieldy and problematic nature is no great secret in Washington. The need for sweeping reform of that bureaucracy has been apparent since President Ronald Reagan elevated the position of Veterans Affairs secretary to the Cabinet in his second term. Nor is the disturbing charge that VA administrators engaged in the concealment of the excessive waiting times vets faced a new allegation.
A report in the Washington Times on Monday revealed that President’s George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and their staffs were aware of the debacle. Indeed, as CNN’s investigative reporter Drew Griffin observed, “it’s hard to believe everybody in Washington didn’t know this was going on.”
There is plenty of complicity to go around. Both Republicans and Democrats have praised the VA system as a model of efficient health care delivery. It is now clear that such praise should have been offered cautiously, if at all. For all the hand-wringing, lip service, and declarations that “nobody is more outraged about this,” however, 2014 finally offers politicians a window to do something about the problems at the VA. Why? It’s an election year, and the Affordable Care Act is on the ballot.
For weeks, liberal bloggers and reporters who specialize in explaining events to the great unwashed have been asserting that the ACA is actually more popular than your daily, lived experience would suggest. And some polls have provided evidence to support their conclusion. But a Politico battleground poll released on Monday shatters the notion that the ACA will not be a drag on Democrats this November.
That Politico poll revealed that a survey of voters in “competitive U.S. House and Senate races” shows that the 2014 electorate is going to be far more conservative than the 2012 electorate. The survey revealed that voters in 2014 battlegrounds self-identify more as Republican than Democratic, disapprove of legalizing gay marriage and marijuana, are generally more pro-life than the rest of the country, and disapprove of Obama by a whopping 59 to 40 percent.
The battleground electorate is also deeply concerned about Obamacare. In the Politico poll, as many voters say health care is an election year priority for them as is the issue of jobs, which is the issue of paramount concern for the electorate at large. 89 percent of those surveyed said the ACA is a determining factor in how they will vote.