Interviews

Bachmann: We never see Obama actually 'fix' the VA problem

Reaction to handling of VA scandal

 

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," May 20, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Meanwhile, the White House says that President Obama is madder than hell about the VA scandal. Does that sound familiar?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Nobody is madder than me about the fact that the Web site isn't working as well as it should. It's inexcusable. And Americans are right to be angry about it, and I am angry about it. And make no mistake, justice will be done.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAVUTO: All right, Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann says it's one thing to say something; it's quite another to actually do something.

And I know, Congresswoman, you and I have chatted about this before. He's known as no-drama Obama, and that's a quality that a lot of people can admire, but when everything hits the fan, almost it begs for a little agita, a little emotion, and -- and we're not seeing it, are we?

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN, R-MINN.: No, because in issue after issue, and one of these incidents after another one, we never see the president actually go and fix the problem.

That's all people care about. It really reminds me of the days of former President Clinton, when he would say, I feel your pain, and somehow that was supposed to make all of us feel so great about the issue.

But where does a veteran go who is on a delayed waiting list when the bureaucracy is quickly trying to cover its rear end and the president of the United States is mad about it? He is always shocked, shocked when these things come up. It's really pretty easy to predict.

Bureaucracy always looks out for itself. It's number one. It promotes itself. It covers itself up. And this is one of the worst bureaucracies that there is when you have one of the most sympathetic groups, veterans in need of care, and they're put on these fake waiting lists, just so that bonuses can be given to people...

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: Oh, no, well, you're right, it's a mess. But it seems to be, unlike some of the other scandals, drawing bipartisan rage.

I know Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth, herself an Iraq war veteran, double amputee...

BACHMANN: Yes.

CAVUTO: ... she's, to put it mildly, concerned about this, as are a number of other Democrats. Are you among those calling right now for Secretary Eric Shinseki's resignation?

BACHMANN: Absolutely. As a matter of fact, I did immediately. I called for his resignation. And I think that it needs to happen.

Isn't just rearranging the decks -- chairs. You do have to have people who take responsibility. And for some reason, the Obama administration always wants to act like they're in a cloud floating above the problem and it's a shock to them.

He does need to have some head -- heads roll, but what he needs to show is what he has done to rectify the situation so people that need care get it.

CAVUTO: But, as you know, Congresswoman, a lot of these problems, and down to even the disbursement of benefits for veterans that was delayed sometimes months, sometimes years...

BACHMANN: Yes. Yes.

CAVUTO: ... it actually began in the prior administration. A lot of this problem with the VA administration, if you think about it, go back to the Clinton administration. In other words, you could pick and choose your president and party, but it seems like, again, veterans get the short end of the stick.

BACHMANN: Yes.

CAVUTO: I mean, how do you guys hope to address that, redress that?

BACHMANN: No, you're right. It's because this is what bureaucracy does, and the Bush administration warned the Obama administration about these problems, so they can't say they read about it in the newspaper.

They were forewarned. But what do they need to do? Dismantle the bureaucracy. Bring competition into the VA system. I know a lot of people that are good in this system. For instance, in my state of Minnesota, we're about the top in the nation in processing claims for veterans.

In fact, we're so good that the federal government diverted about 11 percent of all the unresolved claims to Saint Paul, Minnesota, and they're forcing people there to work mandatory overtime, 10 to 20 hours a week, in order to do the job, because they were doing it right.

So, we need to look at the innovation of a Minneapolis-Saint Paul that really does it right, and why can't a Phoenix get it right? We have got to innovate and we can't -- we have to stop protecting the bureaucracy.

CAVUTO: Well, here's the excuse I hear.

Now, a lot of Veterans Administration officials, knowing that I would be talking to you today, knowing I would be raising about this subject today, said the problem here is we were blasted for willy-nilly handing out benefits oftentimes and checks to people who didn't deserve them. So we were haphazard with it.

So when we're checking ourselves and trying to slow down to make sure the right people were getting the right checks and the right allowances due them, now -- now we're penalized for being too inept and too slow.

BACHMANN: No, no.

CAVUTO: What do you say to that?

(LAUGHTER)

BACHMANN: No.

They're -- they have got it wrong on both of them. They -- they continually get it wrong. Some places get it right. Minneapolis-Saint Paul has gotten it right. So, again, figure out what works, do more of it, figure out what doesn't work, do less of it.

BACHMANN: Well, I know that. But when you say...

(CROSSTALK)

BACHMANN: Transparency is the answer.

CAVUTO: Are you open -- you want this out for competitive bidding when it comes to checking medical claims?

BACHMANN: You bet.

CAVUTO: When it comes -- so, couldn't that add to the confusion or are you saying just the competitive bidding alone means people are on their toes?

BACHMANN: Competitive bidding is a good thing. The free market is a good thing, because people have to work for the check that they get and they don't have the ability to be able to hide all of their mistakes. That is what bureaucracy does again so well. It really knows how hide its mistakes.

CAVUTO: But you don't worry, Congresswoman, that some nefarious private types might seize on this? If I scale back on benefits I'm giving or checks I'm giving and I really tightly rein this in, they might be doing more harm.

BACHMANN: Well, here's an example, Neil.

All I can say I'm so thankful that grocery stores are privatized. Can you imagine if the federal government ran grocery stores? We would probably all be starving on the streets. I'm extremely grateful that we have a private distribution system with food in this country.

CAVUTO: All right. Fair enough.

BACHMANN: And I think that's where I want to see it happen, especially with our veterans.

CAVUTO: I would just see this White House control my grocery store, I would be Twiggy. They wouldn't let me in.

BACHMANN: Yes.

(LAUGHTER)

CAVUTO: Congresswoman, thank you very, very much. Always good seeing you.

BACHMANN: Absolutely. Good to see you.

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