Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) recently found herself mired in controversy after she praised the Veteran Affairs office for providing the “highest quality of care” to America’s veterans.
“All I can think of is that classic refrain that my parents always taught me growing up, is that: ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,'” Cortez said at a New York town hall. “That is the opening approach we have seen when it comes to privatization, it’s the idea that this thing that isn’t broken, this thing that provides some of the highest quality care to our veterans somehow needs to be fixed, optimized, tinkered with until we don’t even recognize it anymore.”
The young lawmaker went on to say that she and others have a “responsibility to protect” the VA from those who argue a more privatized approach to the organization would result in more streamlined care for veterans, some of whom are waiting years before getting the proper medical care they need.
“They are trying to fix the VA for pharmaceutical companies, they’re trying to fix the VA for insurance corporations, and ultimately they’re trying to fix the VA for a for-profit healthcare industry that does not put people or veterans first,” said Cortez. “And so we have a responsibility to protect it.”
The statement earned the New York congresswoman plenty of blowback.
“What in the world is she talking about? She’s never used the VA or probably doesn’t know too many people that do. She would probably never use it,” Fox News host Pete Hegseth, a U.S. Army veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, responded on “Fox & Friends.”
One positive response to Cortez came from perhaps the most surprising person of all: President Donald Trump.
Trump took to Twitter on Wednesday afternoon to actually agree with Cortez that the “VA is not broken.”
“Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is correct, the VA is not broken, it is doing great. But that is only because of the Trump Administration. We got Veterans Choice & Accountability passed. ‘President Trump deserves a lot of credit.’ Dan Caldwell, Concerned Veterans of America,” tweeted the president.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is correct, the VA is not broken, it is doing great. But that is only because of the Trump Administration. We got Veterans Choice & Accountability passed. “President Trump deserves a lot of credit.” Dan Caldwell, Concerned Veterans of America
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 24, 2019
People understandably responded to Trump’s tweet with pure shock.
“Please tell me this is sarcasm,” wrote one user.
What are you talking about? Please tell me this is sarcasm. https://t.co/mvi5QwhSff
— ⚾️ Mary #FlyTheW 🐻 (@mchastain81) April 24, 2019
Another responded by simply saying, “Nah.”
— Jerry Dunleavy (@JerryDunleavy) April 24, 2019
Dan Caldwell, whom Trump quotes in his tweet, is the executive director of Concerned Veterans of America. A veteran himself, Caldwell is heavily involved in VA reforms and helping veterans.
Caldwell took to Twitter to respond to the president’s AOC tweet and to praise Trump for signing two major bills which have helped to reform the VA and end some of the endless bureaucracy that plagued veterans’ health care in the past.
“Thanks @realDonaldTrump. Lots of progress has been made but still a lot of work to do – keep pushing for more choice and accountability. Also keep pushing to end our endless wars, vets/military families support you on that as well,” he tweeted.
Thanks @realDonaldTrump. Lots of progress has been made but still a lot of work to do – keep pushing for more choice and accountability. Also keep pushing to end our endless wars, vets/military families support you on that as well: https://t.co/D5ogYZna1Mhttps://t.co/hHZPLjXw1e
— Dan Caldwell (@dandcaldwell) April 24, 2019
Caldwell later responded to a critic of Trump’s tweet.
“He is talking about the VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017 and the VA MISSION Act of 2018 – both bills he signed and which he rightly deserves credit for along with members of Congress like @DrPhilRoe and @JerryMoran,” said Caldwell.
The VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017 brought more accountability to employees of the VA. It makes it easier to fire employees for misconduct and it better protects employees who bring misconduct by other workers or the organization itself to light.
The VA Mission Act of 2018 helps veterans get access to care by providing them with more choice. Among its reforms, it allows veterans to seek care outside of the VA system if proper care can not be provided or the wait for that care is too long.
Both of those bills are seen as landmark reforms for the VA, but they are also the first of many needed steps to fix a system so many presidents before Trump ignored.
He is talking about the VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017 and the VA MISSION Act of 2018 – both bills he signed and which he rightly deserves credit for along with members of Congress like @DrPhilRoe and @JerryMoran. https://t.co/1AkfIeKY1V
— Dan Caldwell (@dandcaldwell) April 24, 2019
The president’s original tweet is clearly in the spirit of humorously trolling, which is always fun when it comes to AOC, but he does deserve credit for actually giving real attention to the problems in the VA and trying to combat them.
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