Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 12, 2016

Robert McDonald Nomination May Stem the Bleeding in VA Health Scandal (Video)

President Barack Obama’s pick of Robert McDonald as secretary of Veterans Affairs earned quick plaudits from Republicans in Congress Sunday — a welcome bit of good news for a White House that has been besieged by the VA scandal.

McDonald supported Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential election and has donated to Republican congressional candidates, including Speaker John A. Boehner and Sen. Rob Portman in his native Ohio, and his selection marks an attempt by Obama to move the VA issue past the partisan football it has become on Capitol Hill.

As stories of bureaucratic incompetence continue to flood in — including White House Deputy Chief of Staff Rob Nabors’ damning June 27 portrait of a “corrosive culture” at the VA — there’s no shortage of repair work to be done for an agency critical to the health of millions.

The new secretary will have to oversee an upgrade to the agency’s nearly 30-year-old computer scheduling system and a culture reset, along with needing to react to investigations that now touch 77 of the sprawling VA facilities.

McDonald’s confirmation can be considered all-but-assured, barring anything showing up in background vetting by Congress.

His résumé as the former CEO of Procter and Gamble, one of the largest companies on earth, as well as his personal history as a veteran, probably makes him a shoo-in. He certainly could have enjoyed a far easier retirement than taking on a job that pays a fraction of corporate executive pay these days and will feature redoubled oversight from Congress.

He’ll still face tough questioning about what he intends to do to fix the agency. Republicans want a deep overhaul — and many want more reliance on private care. Bills that passed through both chambers would give veterans access to private care if wait times at VA facilities drag on — although the Congressional Budget Office has warned that new entitlement could top $50 billion a year down the line.

There also remains the question of McDonald’s ability to freely hire and fire employees. Critics of the VA have called for sweeping accountability and firing of any employee engaged in the falsifying of wait times and other practices.

House Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Jeff Miller of Florida said the new secretary will have to make sure the people who created the scandal are “purged.”

“If confirmed by the Senate, Robert McDonald will inherit a Department of Veterans Affairs under a specter of corruption that may very well surpass anything in the history of American government,” Miller said. “In order to pave the way for serious and substantive reforms that will help VA to effectively deliver the care and benefits our veterans have earned, he’ll need to root out the culture of dishonesty and fraud that has taken hold within the department.”

Lawmakers from McDonald’s Ohio turf embraced the nomination.

“I’m glad to see the President reach out to someone with a wealth of experience managing a complex organization who has also had a distinguished military career as a West Point graduate and Army Ranger,” Portman said Sunday in a statement of support for the nomination. “While new leadership at the top of the VA is desperately needed, it is also critical that the new secretary have the necessary tools to effect change and enforce accountability, including the ability to hire and fire top VA personnel.”

Boehner also endorsed the pick in a statement Sunday. “Bob McDonald is a good man, a veteran, and a strong leader with decades of experience in the private sector. With those traits, he’s the kind of person who is capable of implementing the kind of dramatic systemic change that is badly needed and long overdue at the VA. But the next VA secretary can only succeed in implementing that type of change if his boss, the president, first commits to doing whatever it takes to give our veterans the world class health care system they deserve by articulating a vision for sweeping reform.”

McDonald hails from Cincinnati — the same city as Portman — and contributed $5,000 to Portman’s “Promoting Our Republican Team” leadership PAC in 2012, according to FEC records. He earlier gave Portman’s campaign account $3,400.

Boehner’s district is just north of Cincinnati. McDonald gave a combined $11,000 to the Boehner for Speaker committee in 2012 and 2013 and has donated thousands more to his campaigns.

McDonald also gave $15,000 to the Romney campaign committees in 2012.


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  • RadDad1

    While I wish the best for Mr. McDonald, if he is given the job by the Senate, at the end of the day he is a West Point graduate. I don’t see how he will be able to fix VA without being also being highly critical of the fired West Pointer and VA Secretary Shinseke and the current acting Secretary who is also a West Pointer.

  • ShadrachSmith

    Obama has not taken a step toward fixing the callous and arrogant bureaucratic corruption in his administration.
    Obama has taken a step toward washing his hands, handing off the ball, passing the buck on the callous and arrogant bureaucratic corruption in his administration.

    Weasel wording the situation into bipartisan praise of Obama’s leadership is counter-factual. Nobody but Obama flacks are praising Obama’s bipartisan leadership, of which he doesn’t have any.

  • Susan Sered

    I am not at all convinced that experience at a company that sells household and hygiene products positions him to understand the issues of healthcare. Healthcare delivery cannot work according to the free market model; it is not a commodity.

  • Jorge Orwell

    Compassion? Always remember that Kathleen Sebelius refused to approve a waiver that would have put a dying child on a lung transplant list.

  • Jeffrey A. Trueman

    Congress is provided semi-annually IG Reports that identify fraud, waste and abuse in the “DVA”. Clearly, Congress has failed to uphold its separation of powers authority with regard to the treatment and compensation of U.S. Veterans and corruption in the DVA for far too long.

  • XPolitician

    The problem in the Department of Veteran Affairs it is not all Obama. IT is about a self centered ignorant lazy congress — both parties. It is about public service to your nation being perverted. It is about the American unwillingness to get a handle on healthcare for all Americans. It is about Americans unwillingness to face up to it’s obligations to those who fought their wars. Seen with political public relations gimmick after gimmick with all sorts of proclamations about veterans are served, ending there. PTSD treatment is a farce in most SE states It is about a government a agency unwilling to really change putting its high level big paycheck employees first. There is more effort in building new buildings without parking spaces at the VA hospital than serving those from war. Get rid of dentists send vets to private clinics. Get rid of the massive hospitals and send them to private clinics. A huge problem for the the VA is too many jobs like building maintenance having nothing to do with serving the veteran. Lastly the VA has is too many employees

  • Poe Gromms

    Is not the power to force you to buy health insurance the same power to force you to buy something else?

  • R.C. Foster

    Retransmission of PR Newswire posting on 7/3/2014:

    Hypocrite and Deserter” Charges By Operation:Heroes Organization Against Former Procter & Gamble CEO Clouds President Obama’s Nomination of Bob McDonald for U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

    PresidentObama’s Secretary of Veterans Affairs Nominee, Bob McDonald, Is Accused of Abandoning an Operation:Heroes’ Support Mission by Allowing Procter and Gamble’s Executives To Undermine and Renege on the P&G Agreement McDonald Personally Brokered. Operation:Heroes also claims McDonald Allowed The Interference and Subsequent Contract Breach Resulting In Cancellation Of The Primetime Network Television Special and National “Thank You For Your Service” Tour Honoring U.S. Military and First Responder Heroes.

    LAS VEGAS, July 3, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — An already heated relationship between Procter and Gamble and Operation:Heroes boiled over with the recent announcement that P&G’s former CEO, Bob McDonald, is President Obama’s nominee for Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

    Operation:Heroes’ spokesperson, Chuck Foster, describes McDonald as “a profit-focused corporate executive, but lacks necessary medical savvy to oversee America’s Department of Veterans Affairs!? He’s also the guy who allowed his P&G management to interfere with, sabotage and breach P&G’s own written support contract which caused the resulting failure and permanent destruction of Operation:Heroes – the annual Memorial Day Sunday event, primetime network TV special, and national ‘thank you for your service’ tour honoring America’s peer-chosen military and first responders!”

    “Given his West Point Academy training and military service background, it’s difficult to comprehend McDonald’s lack of leadership, including his failure to control P&G executives, particularly since he was the person who internally brokered the Operation:Heroes/P&G contract. Even more disturbing,” adds Foster, “is McDonald deserted the Operation:Heroes mission altogether by refusing to intervene when requested, which begs the question: “Why should McDonald be trusted to fix, and not contribute to an even greater SNAFU scenario that already jeopardizes the health-care and lives of our country’s military veterans!?””

    This website link will access related documents including contracts, bios, plus e-mail communication to-and-from McDonald. 7-2-14.html?

    Media Contact: Capt. Chuck Foster,
    Phone: 800.627.6156; Cell: 702.449.8712

    SOURCE Operation:Heroes
    NOTE TO EDITORS: Contact sources for both a fair and balanced story include:
    * John Blink, O/H Sales and Marketing: Phone: 702.372.0298
    * Terrance McCreary, Rear Admiral (Ret), O/H liaison with Dept. of
    Defense, U.S. Military and First Responder organizations; Phone:
    * Alan Lafley, CEO of Procter & Gamble; Phone: 513.983.1100

  • Amanda Nevada

    While liberty is often confused with democratic processes, the right to vote does not imply that centralized control has been minimized or that those who are ineligible to vote are victims of coercion.

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