By Mark Sumner / Daily Kos
The replacement of Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin has two narratives in the media—that Shulkin “embarrassed” Donald Trump with a trip to Europe that included days of sightseeing, and that Shulkin “clashed” with other officials at the VA.
Despite the amount of play the first item has received in the press, and despite some completely justified criticisms of Shulkin’s efforts both slip his wife’s travel costs onto the VA’s dime and indulgence in gifts he should never have accepted, the idea that he was pushed out over travel costs is clearly ludicrous. Scott Pruitt has engaged in far more lavish—and ridiculous—travel policies, hauling along a vast entourage on trips to Italy and Morocco, and the only thing his actions have earned from Trump is a suggestion that Pruitt may get a promotion to some other department ripe for wrecking. Besides, Trump isn’t capable of embarrassment.
And when the press reports that Shulkin butted heads with officials, what they really mean is that Shulkin was blocking appointees from Trump who were pushing to privatize the VA. Fast. The conflict was simple: Shulkin, the only hold-over in Trump’s cabinet from the Obama administration, was trying to maintain the VA as a viable system of health care for veterans. The Trump appointees that filled all the other VA slots, were actively working to do to the VA what Pruitt has done to the EPA—destroy it. [Read more…]