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Trump praises AOC about VA healthcare — before completely contradicting her

President says freshman lawmaker 'is correct' about Veterans Affairs, before claiming the department 'is doing great' because of him

Chris Riotta
New York
Wednesday 24 April 2019 18:34 BST
'People are dying': Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez vents anger at Republicans for blocking Green New Deal

Donald Trump has praised Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Twitter over comments she made last week about the Department of Veterans Affairs — while simultaneously undermining her stance on the issue of privatising health care for US veterans.

The president claimed the agency “is doing great” thanks to his administration in a tweet, seemingly undermining the fundamental point the 29-year-old politician was making during a town hall event in New York.

Mr Trump supported at least a portion of the congresswoman’s statements surrounding veterans’ health care in America, writing Wednesday, “Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is correct, the VA is not broken, it is doing great. But that is only because of the Trump administration.”

Ms Ocasio-Cortez was speaking out against efforts by the Republican Party to privatise the VA — the second largest federal department following Defence — when she said at a town hall event in New York, “When it comes to the VA, all I can think of is that classic refrain that my parents always told me growing up, which is that, ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’”

“That is their opening approach that we have seen when it comes to privatisation,” she continued. “The idea that this thing that isn’t broken, this thing that provides the highest quality care to our veterans somehow needs to be fixed, optimised, tinkered with, until — until we don’t even recognise it anymore.”

The progressive Democrat did not appear to be stating that health care could be improved at the Veterans Affairs department; rather, she was making the case against privatisation, suggesting it would only further hamper the government’s ability to produce meaningful reforms for veterans.

The president, meanwhile, has pushed to keep government spending down by privatising the VA, despite research indicating privatisation at the federal agency has only led to longer wait times and increased costs for US taxpayers.

Mr Trump’s comments arrived shortly after top Republicans slammed Ms Ocasio-Cortez while seemingly under the assumption she was actually claiming the VA did not need any improvements.

“Apparently ignorance is bliss when it comes to Rep Ocasio-Cortez and her views of VA,” Phil Roe, the top Republican on the House Veterans Affairs committee, told Fox News.

“It is evident that she paid little attention to the scandalous treatment of veterans that occurred several years ago by some in the very agency created to serve them,” he added.

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Mr Trump touted the passage of Veterans Choice & Accountability Act in his tweet after claiming the department was running well thanks to his presidency. That programme has actually been around since 2014, however; Congress simply passed an updated version last year.

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