May 31, 2014

In Covering Shinseki’s Sacking, AP’s Pace Cites VA’s Rising Caseload, Ignores Huge Spending Increases

Julie Pace at the Associated Press, aka the Administration’s Press, is used to carrying water for the Obama administration. Last year, she proudly reveled in how she and her wire service sat on information it had about secret U.S.-Iran negotiations for eight months. My immediate take was that “They didn’t report it until the Obama administration said it would be okay to report it.” The AP denied it; unfortunately for the self-described “essential global news network,” another news organization confirmed that it and AP “both had versions of it independently early & were asked to not publish til end of Iran talks.” There’s not a chance in Hades that the AP would have similarly accommodated a Republican or conservative administration.

After that heavy lifting, Pace surely found that giving readers the impression in a Friday report about President Barack Obama’s sacking of Eric Shinseki that the problems at the Department of Veterans Affairs have more to do with its growing caseload than with incompetence and potential criminality was relatively easy.

While doing so, the AP reporter ignored a near-tripling of the agency’s budget during the past 11 years.

Here’s Pace’s sob-story paragraph, followed by a thorough budgetary rebuttal (bolds is mine):


… Republicans in Congress said the shake-up wasn’t enough to solve problems at an agency that has been struggling to keep up with a huge demand for its services – some 9 million enrolled now compared to 8 million in 2008. The influx comes from returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, aging Vietnam War vets who now have more health problems, a move by Congress to expand the number of those eligible for care and the migration of veterans to the VA during the last recession after they lost their jobs or switched to the VA when their private insurance became more expensive.

So the VA’s caseload is up by roughly 12.5 percent (9 million divided by 8 million) since 2008. The agency’s spending has increased by 78 percent during that time (source: Monthly U.S. Treasury Statements for September of each year presented):


A related chart also shows that the argument advanced by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats that the Bush administration didn’t properly budget for the influx of Afghanistan and Iraq War vets doesn’t hold up, given that it increased total agency spending by almost 50 percent during the first five full fiscal years after the Iraq War began:


Sorry, Julie. This is a story about waste, fraud and abuse which may have started during the Bush 43 administration but has morphed, despite warnings during the 2008-2009 presidential transition that it badly needed to be addressed, into an arguably criminal and definitely life-threatening and life-taking monster on Dear Leader’s watch.

Pace also knows what not to report. Yesterday, during his briefing announcing Shinseki’s sacking, President Obama referred to “how in some of these facilities you’ve got computer systems for scheduling that date back to the ‘90s.” She knew not to report that, because readers would instantly ask why the administration hasn’t done anything about that for five years. We can’t have that.

Cross-posted at


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