Friday Lightning Round: Deaths of veterans waiting for care

Panel sums up this week's hot topics


This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," April 25, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Each week we ask to you vote online in our Friday lightning round poll for your favorite panel topic. The first one tonight you chose the recent death of veterans waiting for care from an Arizona Veterans Affairs facility. Take a listen to Senator McCain on that.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, R-ARIZ.: Never before have I seen an allegation of the cover-up of 40 people dying. This raises it to a level that is unprecedented. That's why we have to use every instrument of government to get to the bottom of this.

SHARON HELMAN, PHOENIX VA MEDICAL DIRECTOR: We are going to do everything we can to address these allegations and concerns, and if the office of inspector general does find anything, we will take appropriate and swift action.


BAIER: OK, we're back with the panel. Jason?

JASON RILEY, WALL STREET JOURNAL: Well, in addition to being a tragedy, I mean, the reports are at least 40 people may have lost their lives. I think it's embarrassment for every American. These are people who put their life on the line for this country. They deserve the best medical care we have to offer. And the idea that people were manipulating data to win bonuses is just an abomination.

BAIER: Elise?

ELISE VIEBECK, THE HILL: I think you have to look at this in the broader sense. There may have been people who died, which is an absolute tragedy, a terrible story. But across the VA health system you have rationing of care essentially where people are having to wait to see doctors and to receive prescriptions. What does Congress do about that?

JONAH GOLDBERG, AT LARGE EDITOR, NATIONAL REVIEW ONLINE: Elise raises a good point. There are a lot of people in the debates about Obamacare who said look at the VA system, it's great, government-run healthcare works, and not all of the VA system is terrible and a certainly not as evil and repugnant as this story. But it does show you when you have bureaucrats in charge they start playing games with things. And some of those bureaucrats need to go to jail.

BAIER: Next up, the NCAA and unions. You have this vote in Northwestern for football players to form a union. Take a listen to the vice president for university relations at Northwestern.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Today the Chicago office of the National Labor Relations Board conducted an election here at northwestern in which the university scholarship football players had the opportunity to vote by secret ballot on whether or not they wished to be represented by the College Athlete Players Association. Those ballots will not be counted until that appeals process or review process is completed.


BAIER: What about this, unions in college football?

GOLDBERG: Look, if I was doing this from scratch, I would say get these teams out of division one sports and create a minor league. Never going to happen. But I think the union thing is just nuts. The idea -- first of all the idea they could contain it just to these sports seems ridiculous to it me. Title 9 activists, everyone would want to be unionized. And the last thing you need is more bureaucrats running all of it stuff.

BAIER: Elise?

VIEBECK: I like his initial idea, create a minor league so that people who are involved in college sports at schools that make an enormous profit off of it can get some of those benefits but not necessarily have it affect the entire system.

RILEY: I think there are a lot of things you can do short of this route that could be effective. You could change the recruiting rules. You could have colleges pay for the full cost of education, not just tuition, for some of these student athletes. But I don't see how turning them into employees, which I think is really the nuclear option here, is really necessary. If I'm a college president and you are in my school to play football, why do I care if you go to chemistry class? That's not what you're there for.

GOLDBERG: You can get better health insurance, which is what they claim is what this is all about.

BAIER: Last up, winners and losers, first winner then loser of the week.

RILEY: My winner of week is Michelle Obama for changing her schedule to speak to some high school graduates in Kansas in order to accommodate more families who wanted to attend. I thought it was a classy move.

My loser of the week is her husband and his attorney general, Eric Holder, who seemed very eager to shorten the sentences of drug dealers so that they can rush back to the ghetto and continue causing hell. I wish that the administration was as sympathetic with the victims of these guys as they are the perpetrators.

BAIER: Elise?

VIEBECK: My winner was the movement to legalize recreational marijuana after former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens said the whole thing was basically a good idea that was going to happen. And my loser was the conservative group Americans for Prosperity, which used a photo of Obama and Mark Udall in an ad. They had just been grieving with families affected by the Aurora shooting. They then changed the ad, so it was a misstep from an organization that played into Democratic criticism.

BAIER: Jonah.

GOLDBERG: I was going to pick as my winner the robot that Barack Obama bowed to because it's a landmark in the future robots taking over the earth, but instead I will pick Bebe Netanyahu on a more serious note because he got to walk away from these negotiations he didn't want to do because Abbas decided to join up with Hamas. The loser is Cliven Bundy and a lot of the people who invested so heavily in him in the beginning before they found out some of the things that he says and believes which are not helpful to his cause.

BAIER: We got a lot of email about that panel on that last night. That's it for this panel.

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