May 28th, 2014
07:32 AM ET
7 months ago

First on CNN: First major TV ad on VA scandal

Washington (CNN) -- The Veterans Affairs scandal's been a major issue on the campaign trail the past couple of weeks. Now it's front and center in the campaign ad wars.

Crossroads GPS, the non-profit sister organization to American Crossroads, a leading pro-GOP outside group which was co-founded and steered by Karl Rove, says that starting Wednesday it will start running a television commercial in Alaska that's critical of Sen. Mark Begich over his reaction to the growing controversy, which was first reported by CNN six months ago.

Begich is considered one of the most vulnerable Democratic senators running for re-election this year.

"A national disgrace. Veterans died waiting for care that never came. Senator Mark Begich sits on the Veterans Affairs Committee. His response? If there's a problem, they need to fix it. If there's a problem?" says the narrator in the spot, which is the first major ad to focus on the scandal.

"Four years ago, the VA's inspector general failed the Anchorage VA office in thirteen of fourteen areas. Now some Senators are blocking bipartisan legislation to shake up the VA and enforce accountability. Tell Senator Begich: when veterans are dying, it IS a problem," the narrator adds.

Complete Coverage: 2014 Midterm Elections

The group tells CNN that it will spend $450,000 to run the ad for one week. It's part of a $9.3 million late spring and summer ad buy announced last week by Crossroads GPS and American Crossroads (the super PAC) to run commercials in Alaska and three other crucial Senate races in Arkansas, Colorado and North Carolina. If the Republicans win back those four Democratic-held seats plus two more in this November's midterm elections, they would regain control of the Senate.

The Veterans Affairs controversy has mushroomed since CNN first reported last November on allegations of alarming shortcomings within the VA medical care system that potentially have had deadly consequences in dozens of cases.

The most disturbing and striking problems emerged in Arizona last month, with sources revealing to CNN details of a secret waiting list. According to the sources, at least 40 American veterans died in Phoenix while waiting for care at the VA there.

Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki has come under pressure to resign from many Republican lawmakers and candidates, and even some Democratic senate and gubernatorial candidates. Shinseki said last week that he has not offered his resignation to President Barack Obama. The President last week made it clear he won't fire Shinseki – yet – but promised accountability.

The VA's troubled history

Begich, who sits on the Senate Veterans Affairs' Committee, is expected to visit a VA facility in Anchorage on Wednesday. Alaska's junior senator is calling on the VA to address the wait times for veterans seeking medical care by filling vacancies at clinics with public health officers.

Begich, who was first elected to the Senate in 2008, has so far this cycle faced a flood of critical TV ads put up by another pro-GOP outside group, Americans for Prosperity, which is backed by the deep pockets of the billionaire industrialist brothers, David and Charles Koch.

Two weeks ago Crossroads reserved more than $5 million in ad time in Alaska from September 8 through October 26.

Earlier this cycle Crossroads went up with a spot in Alaska in support of former state attorney general Dan Sullivan, in his fight for the GOP nomination against Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell and conservative Joe Miller, the 2010 Republican Senate nominee.

The VA scandal is also in a new ad attacking another vulnerable Democratic, Sen. Mark Pryor of Arkansas. The spot by Rep. Tom Cotton, the GOP challenger in the race, hits Pryor for what it says is his inaction in dealing with the controversy.

"What did Mark Pryor do? Nothing," says the narrator in the on-line ad.

The most recent polls indicate that the two-term senator leads the freshman congressman and Iraq War vet.

Democrats hold a 55-45 majority in the Senate (53 Democrats and two independents who caucus with the party), but are defending 21 of the 36 seats up in November, with half of those Democratic-held seats in red or purple states, like Alaska.


Filed under: 2014 • Alaska • American Crossroads • Crossroads GPS • Mark Begich • Senate • Senate Race
soundoff (108 Responses)
  1. Sniffit

    "Your single payer fantasy is a sham, just like Obamacare."

    LOL. Really gets you upset that I'm right, eh? Tell Sweden or other countries with single payer and government run systems (which that are wildly different than the VA) that their systems aren't successful. Then watch them laugh their meatballs off as they outlive you.

    May 28, 2014 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  2. foxghostwriter

    Tommy, are you familiar with how government contractors work? They are paid by the government, have to follow strict guidelines, but the employees do not directly work for the government.

    May 28, 2014 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  3. Donna

    Canadians
    Canadians LOVE their health care system.
    ---

    Well, all except the 42,000 that left Canada in 2013 to seek medical treatment elsewhere. People that couldn't get treatment in time, people who couldn't get the treatment needed, people who wanted the best.

    So does Canada publish how many people die in their country because they were delayed or denied treatment because of a lack of resources? Or is all that simply buried along with the people the system kills?

    May 28, 2014 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  4. Sniffit

    "Why do people in 17 other countries with single-payer systems have better medical outcomes than ours while spending less per patient?"

    Wait wait...I know the answer!!!! BECAUSE BENGHAZI!!!!!

    May 28, 2014 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  5. Tommy G

    Sniffit
    -–
    "Your single payer fantasy is a sham, just like Obamacare."
    -–
    LOL. Really gets you upset that I'm right, eh? Tell Sweden or other countries with single payer and government run systems (which that are wildly different than the VA) that their systems aren't successful. Then watch them laugh their meatballs off as they outlive you.
    -–

    Right? You have yet to provide a single FACT to prove your case or to describe the nirvana you call single payer and how it is different than the VA system.

    And comparing the USA to Sweden is a total joke. Sweden is a fairly homogenous society of a whooping TEN million people!! The USA is around 320 million and we have 10-20 million illegals here dragging down our numbers. We also take in millions more every year while Sweden does NOT. How about showing a country like ours where this fantasy of yours (still undefined and described) is working as advertised? You can't because there is none.

    May 28, 2014 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  6. turd cruzin

    First it will be way to expensive, its not, then they'll never reach 7 million: they did, ( she struggles so with that one), and people are liking their plans I know its the best insurance I've had in ten years. And the lie of the year was true for 97% of the country, no wonder she struggles, fox news will do that. Total tool.

    May 28, 2014 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  7. tom l

    Sniffit,
    The fact that you would try to compare Sweden (a country of all the dastardly WHITE people) with a population that is 1/4 the size of California shows how much you are trying to skew the argument. The VA is actually a perfect example of how a single payer system would work here in the United States. The one who is "upset" is you.

    May 28, 2014 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  8. Gurgyl

    This VA trash is going on for generations, next.....,

    May 28, 2014 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  9. Sniffit

    "And comparing the USA to Sweden is a total joke. Sweden is a fairly homogenous society"

    I certainly can see how that would put a GOPer/Teatroll in a jealous rage.

    PSSST: the problems with our health care systems and industry are not because of "illegals."

    May 28, 2014 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  10. tom l

    Life expectancy Sweden – 81.8 years
    Life expectancy United States – 78.6 years

    That's not a whole lotta meatballs, Sniffit. You're talking about a 2-4% difference.

    May 28, 2014 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  11. Sniffit

    "The VA is actually a perfect example of how a single payer system would work here in the United States."

    Still no fact-based, rational supporting argument? I guess you don't have one then. You make the assertion but do nothing to back it up. That means it's nothing but fluff. You know it is too, which is why you don't bother to even try. Go back to Plan (B)enghazi.

    May 28, 2014 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  12. Sniffit

    "That's not a whole lotta meatballs, Sniffit. You're talking about a 2-4% difference."

    Oh brother. Next you'll be telling me it's an advantage because it will keep Medicare costs down. BTW, look up and compare the measures of variance, not just the average, if you'd like a shocker.

    May 28, 2014 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  13. Silence DoGood

    @Donna
    Canadians
    Canadians LOVE their health care system.
    -

    Well, all except the 42,000 that left Canada in 2013 to seek medical treatment elsewhere. People that couldn't get treatment in time, people who couldn't get the treatment needed, people who wanted the best.

    So does Canada publish how many people die in their country because they were delayed or denied treatment because of a lack of resources? Or is all that simply buried along with the people the system kills?
    ------------
    42,000 is 0.001 of Canada's 35 million population.
    I would think Sarah Palin would know all about the myth of bad Canadian health care (from 2010 quote)
    "We used to hustle over the border for health care we received in Canada," Palin said in her first Canadian appearance since stepping down as governor of Alaska. "And I think now, isn't that ironic?"
    Ironic that like most conservatives, she will twist her story to go with the current mythology!

    May 28, 2014 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  14. Tommy G

    BTW, the largest "city" in Sweden is Stockholm. It has a whooping 900,000 people!! The City of New York is more than TWICE the population of the ENTIRE COUNTRY of Sweden. Now honestly Sniffit, aren't you always in here claiming false equivolencies?!! Yours takes the cake!!

    May 28, 2014 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  15. tom l

    "Still no fact-based, rational supporting argument?"

    Single Payer System: Single-payer health care is a system in which the government, rather than private insurers, pays for all health care costs.[1] Single-payer systems may contract for healthcare services from private organizations (as is the case in Canada) or may own and employ healthcare resources and personnel (as is the case in the United Kingdom). The term "single-payer" thus only describes the funding mechanism—referring to health care financed by a single public body from a single fund—and does not specify the type of delivery, or for whom doctors work. The actual funding of a "single payer" system comes from all or a portion of the covered population. Although the fund holder is usually the state, some forms of single-payer use a mixed public-private system.

    Veterans Health Administration: The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) is the component of the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) led by the Under Secretary of Veterans Affairs for Health[3] that implements the medical assistance program of the VA through the administration and operation of numerous VA Medical Centers (VAMC), Outpatient Clinics (OPC), Community Based Outpatient Clinics (CBOC), and VA Community Living Centers (VA Nursing Home) Programs.

    The VHA is distinct from the U.S. Department of Defense Military Health System of which it is not a part

    So how do these differ? You still haven't demonstrated how the VA is not a single payer government run system. Countdown to you making a silly Benghazi reference in 3...2...1...

    May 28, 2014 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  16. Rwatkins

    Everything is about politics and not actually trying to fix anything. For politicians to use this issue for political gain is how this country as a whole has come to operate. The problems at the VA goes back decades. The sound of "Vets dying while waiting for appointments" sounds worse than it actually is. Can anyone honestly say that a VET has died while waiting for an appointment? Any vet can go to an emergency room for care at any time their medicals become life threatening. The real problem is a system that is under-funded and over-burdened. That's the problem. Everyone always says that we owe our men and women who've responded to the call to serve a debt of gratiftued; but again, it sounds nice but if the support system is not in place to help vets, then the nice words are meaningless

    May 28, 2014 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  17. The Real Tom Paine

    Tom l, politics is rife with people who campaign off of tragedies. The question you ought to ask is when people will say enough is enough. @ Donna, when the NRA's paranoia machine kicks in and fundraises because it can't deal with tragedies like Newtown, I can't say which is more distasteful. All I did was cite a GOP intra-party food fight as an example of how far the Right has been willing to go. Did those actions disgust you, or did you merely gloss them over as a means to greater end? The GOP and the Right-to-Life movement used Kermit Gosnell to push their agenda, they used any number of scandals that involved democrats to fundraise, so please don't try to make yourselves out to be better by degree.

    May 28, 2014 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  18. Gunderson

    Um, Sorry Slackers,
    Old Gunderson no make News, just Report News. You still making excuses for state of country? All Bush's fault, no? Um, you forgot Pogo who found real enemy.

    May 28, 2014 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  19. Tom l

    Real TP,

    I acknowledged how disgusting it was to fundraiser by the repubs off of Benghazi. I have been very clear about that. What took me aback was right after many of the liberals were rightfully condemning those actions they then turn around less than a week later and do the exact same thing. It's disgusting on both sides and that's what I was pointing out. And this may make you mad but I don't believe the NRA is the problem. And I don't believe any of the "solutions" that the left talks about to quell mass shootings would have any affect whatsoever. Proof positive is this last event where the dude was just a bad guy. He got a gun through the strict legal process of California and still did what he did. Yet many liberals on here went straight to the same arguments and exploited this tragic event yet it has zero to do with he event. And please don't make me "defend Donna as she is pretty much the mirror opposite of Sniffit. No difference between either of them.

    May 28, 2014 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  20. Thomas

    @Donna
    Canadians
    Canadians LOVE their health care system.
    -

    Well, all except the 42,000 that left Canada in 2013 to seek medical treatment elsewhere. People that couldn't get treatment in time, people who couldn't get the treatment needed, people who wanted the best.

    So does Canada publish how many people die in their country because they were delayed or denied treatment because of a lack of resources? Or is all that simply buried along with the people the system kills?

    ========

    Don , how would you know ? Your still looking for WMD's in Iraq .

    May 28, 2014 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  21. Donna

    Silence DoGood
    @Donna
    Canadians
    Canadians LOVE their health care system.

    Well, all except the 42,000 that left Canada in 2013 to seek medical treatment elsewhere. People that couldn't get treatment in time, people who couldn't get the treatment needed, people who wanted the best.
    So does Canada publish how many people die in their country because they were delayed or denied treatment because of a lack of resources? Or is all that simply buried along with the people the system kills?
    ----
    42,000 is 0.001 of Canada's 35 million population.
    --

    It was 1% of the people using the healthcare system. Yes, I know a measley 1%, 42,000 people, who cares, they are just collateral damage, the price to pay for the utopia of government run healthcare. Until that 1% includes you, your children, your parents, or somebody you care about. I guess all those people will die once the USA goes the same route as Canada, or will they fly to the another country to save their lives? What if they can't afford that? Oh well, I'm sure Canada will pay for their funeral too. So much for the farce called the compassionate left...

    May 28, 2014 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  22. Sniffit

    "You still haven't demonstrated how the VA is not a single payer government run system. "

    I don't need to. single payer is a vast spectrum of solutions. People aren't arguing for the entire country's health care system to turn into the VA, not even people arguing for single payer. To put it in simplified terms: The argument for single payer is not "VA for all," it's essentially "Medicare for all." If you can't tell the vast difference between those two things, which lie at almost opposite ends of the single payer spectrum, then we should just agree to disagree because you're yet again assigning an argument to everyone else just because it's easier for you to argue against that as opposed to what they're really saying.

    May 28, 2014 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  23. As Nancy Peloser famously stated...

    Sniffit
    --
    "You still haven't demonstrated how the VA is not a single payer government run system. "
    --
    I don't need to. single payer is a vast spectrum of solutions.
    --

    We have to first pass single payer because we can see what's in it... Yeah, we're going to fall for that one again!

    May 28, 2014 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  24. The Real Tom Paine

    Tom l, the NRA is a huge part of the problem, especially when doctors are now being told they cannot ask if a gun is in the house because of pressure from the NRA. You are absolutely right when you say that gun control would not have prevented the most recent massacre, but how many would have been stopped if the laws were either different or actually enforced? The NRA has gone to great lengths to discredit ANY type of restrictions: can anyone say we are safer because of this? Both sides can produce stats to bolster their claims, but the idea that they are really interested in me as anything other than a fundraising source is farfetched. I support the right of people to bear arms, but that right has never been an unregulated right, even by the words of Antonin Scalia in the DC gun case. There is a huge difference between Sniffit and Donna because Donna has never been willing to put out her/his life experience as proof of any sort of real-life benchmark. I do not take direction from anyone on here, so please don't imply that I do, or that others on here do as well.

    May 28, 2014 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  25. Sniffit

    Give it a rest with the medical tourism argument, Donna. Approximately 750,000 Americans travel abroad to obtain health care elsewhere every single year. And would you like us to start talking about how many of our own fellow citizens die every year because lack of insurance prevented them from having access to ANY medical care in the US (and no, the ER does not count, because that's been factored into the studies)?

    May 28, 2014 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
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