[Vision2020] Obama's New Jobs Average Higher than Trump's; Trump Exaggerates Improvements for Vets

Nicholas Gier ngier006 at gmail.com
Sat Nov 11 10:57:48 PST 2017


Trump can't yet legitimately claim that his record on job creation is
vastly superior to Obama's. Many of the economic figures he cites are
advancing a recovery from the Great Recession that dates back to the middle
of 2009.

The unemployment rate did slip to 4.1 percent in October. But that was in
part because many Americans gave up searching for work — one of the
criticisms Trump made of Obama's record during the 2016 campaign.

Trump also takes credit for helping create on average 168,500 jobs a month,
but Obama in 2016 averaged about 187,000 jobs a month. Of course, hiring
should slow as the unemployment rate declines because fewer people are
searching for work.

As for the stock market, the Dow Jones Industrial Average returned to its
previous peak in March 2013 and has been setting records ever since. The
promise of corporate tax cuts by Trump has helped the stock market, but
many of the gains rest on the foundations of an economic recovery that saw
corporate profits climb.

*WHITE HOUSE:* "President Trump signed the Veterans Appeals Improvement and
Modernization Act of 2017, taking action to streamline the appeals process
for disability compensation claims within the VA. More than 470,000
veterans are awaiting pending decisions regarding their appeals."

*THE FACTS:* Trump signed the bill in August, part of a bid to reduce a
rapidly growing claims backlog, but its immediate impact is overstated, as
it will have no effect on the 470,000 pending claims.

Under the legislation, veterans will be able to file "express" appeals if
they waive their right to a hearing or the ability to submit new evidence.

While lawmakers hope the legislation ultimately could reduce average wait
times to less than a year, it applies almost entirely to newly filed

Shulkin has said the VA would need Congress to approve an additional $800
million for "hiring surges" of additional appeals processors if the VA
hoped to clear its current backlog within 10 years.

*WHITE HOUSE:* "President Trump has ensured continued access to care in the
Veterans Choice Program by signing the VA Choice and Quality Employment
Act, authorizing $2.1 billion in additional funds for the Veterans Choice

*THE FACTS:* This statement glosses over one of several budget shortfalls
by the VA. Congress was forced in August to approve $2.1 billion in
emergency money to keep Choice running after the VA had repeatedly
understated costs of the program, assuring lawmakers for much of the year
that money would last until January. Shulkin subsequently revealed an
emergency shortfall in June that threatened medical care for tens of
thousands of veterans.

The $2.1 billion was intended to last until February. But weeks after
receiving the money, the VA acknowledged that money for Choice would again
run out sooner than expected, requiring Congress to approve additional
stopgap financing before the end of the year or face disruptions to
veterans' health care.

Lawmakers have yet to act, in part as the Trump administration sorts out
longer-term costs to the private-sector program.


*WHITE HOUSE:* "The VA has launched its 'Access and Quality Tool,' allowing
veterans to see online the wait times at VA locations."

*THE FACTS:* An effort started by Shulkin when he was VA undersecretary of
health in President Barack Obama's administration, the VA website
www.accesstocare.va.gov provides data on wait times as well as on veterans'
satisfaction ratings in getting timely appointments, something that no
other health care system in the country does.

Still, major veterans groups such as Veterans of Foreign Wars have faulted
the data for being misleading and not depicting wait times the way a
typical person would view it.

The Government Accountability Office, for instance, has noted that the data
do not include the amount of wait time from when a veteran initially asks
for care and when a scheduler reaches out to set an appointment, which it
said could be lengthy. In addition, GAO earlier this year continued to find
evidence that VA data can be unreliable because of schedulers recording
wrong dates or changing dates outright, though the VA says it is
implementing new checks and training to help identify "outliers" in


*WHITE HOUSE:* "The White House has opened a brand new VA Hotline staffed
principally by veterans and direct family members of veterans to ensure
that no complaint goes unaddressed."

*THE FACTS:* It opened, but it did not get off to a smooth start. Trump
pledged during the presidential campaign to create a "private White House
hotline" answered by a real person 24 hours a day to take complaints from
veterans, leading the VA to create a hotline beginning in June. Originally
scheduled to be fully operational by Aug. 15, it has encountered some
delays. In a letter to the VA last month, Sen. Jon Tester, the top Democrat
on the Veterans Affairs Committee, complained, "The White House is
frequently routing these calls back to local VA offices, which are often
understaffed and do not have the ability to address the additional casework
in a timely manner."

Tester noted the VA already had several existing options for receiving
complaints from veterans and urged better coordination to make sure no one
falls through the cracks.

*Associated Press writers David Koenig in Dallas, Tom Krisher in Detroit
and Joe McDonald in Beijing contributed to this report.*


A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they
shall never sit in.

-Greek proverb

“Enlightenment is man’s emergence from his self-imposed immaturity.
Immaturity is the inability to use one’s understanding without guidance
from another. This immaturity is self- imposed when its cause lies not in
lack of understanding, but in lack of resolve and courage to use it without
guidance from another. Sapere Aude! ‘Have courage to use your own
understand-ing!—that is the motto of enlightenment.

--Immanuel Kant
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