OTR Interviews

Limbaugh on the VA scandal: Obama administration 'not qualified to do anything ... everything is smoke and mirrors'

Talk radio icon takes on 'smoke and mirrors' Obama White House, says VA scandal proves government and bureaucracy can't do health care well


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," May 27, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Right now, Rush Limbaugh is here to go ON THE RECORD.


VAN SUSTEREN: Nice to talk to you, Rush.

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Welcome back, Greta. It's been too long, but I'm happy to be here with you just now, so thank you for having me by the way.

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VAN SUSTEREN: Well, the reason it's been too long is because you won't join us more often. I don't blame you because we've often times --


LIMBAUGH: Well, you know, the old performer's greed, Greta. Always keep them wanting just a little bit more.

VAN SUSTEREN: Indeed. All right. Let me ask you about this scandal in Washington. Well, actually, it's around the nation with the V.A. health care system. How does this happen?

LIMBAUGH: Well, I think there have been problems with the V.A. that you can probably chronicle since the beginning of the V.A. And the overriding problem is that this is something government just can't do. Despite the best intentions, despite the best efforts, it's something that a bureaucracy just can't handle. And I think the ultimate solution to this is going to be farming out part of it or maybe all of it to the private sector. And the V.A., I think the depth of this scandal, the lesson of this scandal is just that if you want to know where we are headed as a country with health care, take a look at the V.A. because this is the course that's been charted, if we don't change it.

VAN SUSTEREN: What disturbs me, in particular, about this is that apparently people have known about this for so long and looked the other way. I know President Obama ran on it in 2008. I heard him when he ran on it in 2008. I didn't realize the extent of it, and that everyone just looked the other way and let these people suffer. That's what I don't understand.

LIMBAUGH: Well, do you remember back in the early days when the president was selling ObamaCare? One of the things that he accused the doctors of doing was unnecessary surgeries to line their pockets. He talked about doctors doing unnecessary amputation unnecessary tonsillectomy because they can earn a lot of money. He will really, really insulted them and really blast blasphemed them as an industry and said we've got to get a hold of that, get a handle on it. That's the exact thing that happened here. We had bureaucrats working at the V.A., who massaged waiting lists and ran people through waiting lists who had not been treated, all so he so that they could receive a bonus. And so exactly what Obama accused doctors, surgeons of doing back in the early days when he was trying to sell ObamaCare actually happened here.

I had a caller about this today who asked the very same question, why now? I think the sad reality is that what you said is pretty much true. The V.A. has always been problematic. But, in so being, we established a baseline of acceptance, the V.A. is X. It's just what it is. Why now? Because it's gotten all of a sudden so much worse. It's gone so far below the baseline that it is outraging people. And these kinds of things, they can be ultimately useful. If they are learned from, and if the right lesson is taken from it. And, again, I think the lesson here is that this is something better left to the private sector. Despite all the good intentions in the world among maybe the president, bureaucracies, what have you, they are just not equipped to do this kind of thing well. This not what bureaucracies should be tackling, be it for a select group like veterans or the nation at large.

VAN SUSTEREN: But I don't even get the sense that, you know, when you talk about the bureaucrats, I mean, somebody knew that somebody was cooking the books. So somebody at that level knew it. Didn't say anything. It's General Shinseki's obligation to know what's going on and then to report to the president so the president can make some decisions. I don't even get the sense that anyone was even talking about this horrible, you know, calamity that's going on so that we could even fix it.

LIMBAUGH: OK. So why do you think that is? Why wasn't Shinseki reporting to the president? Why weren't other people maybe reporting to sin -- Shinseki? What is your theory?

VAN SUSTEREN: Because they are not doing their jobs and they should be fired.

LIMBAUGH: Why weren't they doing their jobs?

VAN SUSTEREN: You know what, I would do my job. For the life of me - -


-- because I know General Shinseki -- I know General Shinseki cares about the military and he was a great military officer.


VAN SUSTEREN: But I don't see him doing a good job as secretary of the V.A.

LIMBAUGH: What qualifies him? OK, so he is chief of staff of the Army. The reason he is in the job is because John Kerry loved to cite Shinseki, who was the first uniform Army personnel to stand up and criticize George W. Bush. After all these Democrats had voted to go into Iraq and authorize the use of force, Shinseki stood up and said it's going to take hundreds of thousands and we don't have a chance. And the Democrats loved that. So they put him in this job maybe as thanks, maybe as pay back. But where were the qualifications? Maybe, you know, at some point, you have to ask, where is the real concern? You, yourself, said this had been going on for a long, long time. And people knew it and didn't say anything about it. Is it that they don't care? Is it that they put their survival first? Who knows what it is.

But the bottom line is you can ask why all day. If you have the courage to come up with the truth, when you ask why, the answer is they are not qualified. They are not qualified to run ObamaCare. They are not qualified to run energy. They are not qualified to run the economy. They don't have anybody that knows what they doing in anything, Greta. Everything here is smoke and mirrors.

VAN SUSTEREN: I don't know. But I would think that as General Shinseki -- and I put a lot of blame on him -- if he even walked into an E.R. at a V.A. hospital and saw a long line, the first thing I would say is, why is everybody waiting? Where are the doctors? Just sort of basic questions when you walk into these facilities? Apparently, nobody bothered to do that even do a walk through and ask why everybody is waiting?

LIMBAUGH: Until it hits the media, nobody is going to do anything about it. That's hard work. That's fixing it. That's needing and asking for more money, which is not the answer in many cases. Until it breaks and gets out, then it becomes "CYA," which is where we are now.



VAN SUSTEREN: And now more with Rush Limbaugh.


VAN SUSTEREN: Rush, you won the award, the Children's Award. That's got to be fun.

LIMBAUGH: I was a bit surprised. It was unexpected to win that award. But it was a thrill. And Catherine and I went to New York to the Children's Book Award ceremony to receive it. The great thing about it is that kids vote on these awards, book of the year, for various age groups. I happen to win Author of the Year. And it's -- it was really rewarding for me.

Vince Flynn had been urging me to write another book for a number of years, the late author Vince Lynn. And I told him, Vince, I have done that. I had written two books back in the 1990s, oriented toward conservative policy. I said I have been there, done that, and not -- he kept plugging away. And finally Catherine overheard one of these sessions or events where Vince was just really trying to talk me into it, and she said, you love American history and really concerned about what people are learning. Why don't you write children books about American history? Tell them the truth. That really energized me. That fired me up. Because I love this country. I hope everybody will. I wish everybody did. And I just want people -- the story of this country is one of the greatest stories of the human condition ever on this planet, the story of this country and its founding, how it happened. It doesn't need to be exaggerated. It doesn't need to be embellished. It's just absolutely wonderful and, to me, it's almost miraculous. It's something that everybody needs to hear truthfully.

But there is one thing that I will say about life today versus when I was growing up. That is, there is so much pessimism today as opposed to optimism and can-do and inspiration. Movies and TV shows, so much dystopian, end-of-the-world apocalyptic stuff. You look at surveys of Millennials, they have lost faith in the country. They don't think there is a future for them anywhere near what their parents and grandparents had. I think that's unfortunate. I would like to play a little role in becoming inspirational and optimistic for people. This is still the best place on earth. It's still the last great hope on earth. And I think the more people, particularly young people who could understand what had to happen for this country to come into existence and stay -- become a super power in less than 200 years, it's phenomenal. And as I say, I love it.

And transferring that story, making it interesting to 10 to 13-year- olds, that's a challenge. That was exciting to me. And so that's why I did it. And to get an award for the first book, Author of the Year, that was just -- totally unexpected. And I was very graduate find, grateful to get it. And then there is a second book is out, which is "Rush Revere and First Patriots: Time Travel Adventures with Exceptional Americans." They all were. And they remain exceptional to this day. And those two are still the top five of "The New York Times" best-seller list for young people.

It's -- it really is a thrill for me and all the people that are helping me do this. This is not something can I do on my own. There are too many illustrations. There is a lot of research to get it right to make sure that we're telling the truth in this. And it's such a wonderful thing to have it accepted like this. I can't tell you how rewarding the whole experience has been.

VAN SUSTEREN: Rush, congratulations. And I love the fact that the jury that decided this was the very people that are going to read it, the young people. I think all adults should read it as well. But thank you, Rush.

LIMBAUGH: Thank you very much, Greta. And it's always really great to be with you.

VAN SUSTEREN: Thank you.

LIMBAUGH: Take care.