Poll: More fault Shinseki than Obama for VA woes

 

The public blames Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki more than President Obama for mismanagement at veterans hospitals across the country, according to a new CBS News poll released Thursday.

While one-third of respondents point the finger at Shinseki for allegations that hospitals maintained secret waiting lists and dozens of veterans died while allegedly on the wait list, just 17 percent say the fault lies with President Obama. Some 28 percent say that local VA hospitals are responsible, while 23 percent say they're not sure who should be held to account.

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Unsurprisingly, Republicans were the most likely to blame the president for failures at the VA. Of the members of the GOP surveyed, 31 percent blamed Shinseki, and 30 percent said the president was responsible.

By contrast, 4 in 10 Democrats said Shinseki was at fault, with just 7 percent blaming the president. Independents mirrored the nation as a whole, with 30 percent of unaffiliated voters pointing the finger at both Shinseki and local VA hospitals, and 17 percent of independents blaming Obama.

Of the veterans surveyed, 36 percent accused the retired four-star general of mismanagement, while 29 percent blamed local VA hospitals, and 18 percent held the commander in chief responsible.

Americans are split on why they believe long wait times at veterans facilities are a persistent problem. Of those surveyed, 42 percent say the VA does not have adequate resources, while 41 percent say the department is not properly managing the resources it has.

During a press conference Wednesday at the White House, Obama vowed he was "going to make sure there is accountability through the system" in light of the allegations of mismanagement.

But the president largely defended Shinseki, who he said had put his "heart and soul" into helping veterans.