Trump Ousts Veterans Affairs Secretary; Replaces Him with Doctor Who Gave Him Glowing Medical Report

Lisa Rein, Philip Rucker, Emily Wax-Thibodeaux, and Josh Dawsey at the Washington Post report:
Trump fired his embattled Veterans Affairs secretary Wednesday and tapped as his replacement atop the chronically mismanaged agency the president's personal physician, who gained prominence with his effusive praise of the 71-year-old's physical and mental health.

The ouster of Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, who has been mired in scandal over his charging taxpayers for luxury travel expenses and the infighting among his senior aides, had been widely expected and was made official at 5:31 p.m. by presidential tweet.

Trump said he would nominate Ronny L. Jackson, 50, an active-duty rear admiral in the Navy who has served for the past three administrations as a White House physician.

A biography released by the White House shows Jackson is credentialed and experienced in medicine but has no background in management.
I'm going to come back to the main point in a moment, but first: Presidential tweet??? That's not a fucking thing. It's just a tweet, published by a corrupt shit who happens to be president and routinely flaunts federal recordkeeping laws. But what a turn of phrase to normalize the extremely abnormal behavior of this president.

Back to the subject at hand.

That Jackson "has no background in management" is very significant, given the breathtaking scope of the VA and its pressing needs: "VA, which employs 360,000 people and has a $186 billion annual budget, serves a growing population of veterans in need and is suffering from a shortage of doctors, nurses, and mental-health experts." He is manifestly unqualified for this extremely demanding and historically difficult position.

Or would be, if the point was to run it effectively. But, like virtually every other Trump appointee, Jackson is tasked with breaking it — thus justifying the privatization of the VA which Trump and his cronies desperately want.

On his way out the door, Jackson's predecessor David Shulkin had a few words about that dreadful scheme, which he shared very publicly in an op-ed for the New York Times:
I believe differences in philosophy deserve robust debate, and solutions should be determined based on the merits of the arguments. The advocates within the administration for privatizing V.A. health services, however, reject this approach. They saw me as an obstacle to privatization who had to be removed. That is because I am convinced that privatization is a political issue aimed at rewarding select people and companies with profits, even if it undermines care for veterans.

...These individuals, who seek to privatize veteran health care as an alternative to government-run V.A. care, unfortunately fail to engage in realistic plans regarding who will care for the more than 9 million veterans who rely on the department for life-sustaining care.

The private sector, already struggling to provide adequate access to care in many communities, is ill-prepared to handle the number and complexity of patients that would come from closing or downsizing V.A. hospitals and clinics, particularly when it involves the mental health needs of people scarred by the horrors of war. Working with community providers to adequately ensure that veterans' needs are met is a good practice. But privatization leading to the dismantling of the department's extensive health care system is a terrible idea. The department's understanding of service-related health problems, its groundbreaking research, and its special ability to work with military veterans cannot be easily replicated in the private sector.

I have fought to stand up for this great department and all that it embodies. In recent months, though, the environment in Washington has turned so toxic, chaotic, disrespectful, and subversive that it became impossible for me to accomplish the important work that our veterans need and deserve.

...As I prepare to leave government, I am struck by a recurring thought: It should not be this hard to serve your country.
Shulkin was not entirely successful during his leadership at the VA, but his fuck-ups don't render his point moot. He is absolutely correct that the VA provides specialized care and services that are not "easily replicated in the private sector," and only money-grubbing fools would pretend otherwise. That's why Shulkin's position is supported by a number of prominent veterans' organizations.

Which brings us back to Jackson, who apparently doesn't agree with any of these organizations whose leadership and members have expertise in veterans' needs, and instead agrees with a bunch of greedy shitbirds who didn't make enough money from the wars they sent veterans to fight, so now it's back to exploiting veterans some more so these disgusting dragons can build more piles of gold on which to sleep.

One might suggest it's unfair that I would so bluntly question Jackson's integrity, just because he accepted this job, but his integrity was flushed down the toilet when he gave a ridiculous assessment of Trump's health — "He has incredibly good genes, and it's just the way God made him." — which, as is now obvious, was delivered in exchange for this job.

This entire administration is corrupt to the core.

There are people who assert that Shulkin was corrupt, too — but, if he was, he still wasn't corrupt enough for Donald Trump. Which tells us everything we need to know about his new man at the VA.

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