Poll: Obama has handled VA scandal poorly

 

Nearly two-thirds of Americans in a Thursday poll disapprove of the way President Obama has handled the problems at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

In the Gallup survey, 63 percent say they do not approve of the way Obama has handled the VA mismanagement, substantially lower than on other controversies perceived to be hurting his political standing.

ADVERTISEMENT
While just 29 percent approve of how the president approached the VA, 38 percent back his handling of the controversial prisoner swap to release Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, and 47 percent support the president's environmental policies.

That's particularly concerning because a sizable percentage — 69 percent — say they're following the scandal "very" or "somewhat closely." On average, Gallup reports that major news stories are, on average, followed "closely" by 60 percent of Americans.

An internal audit released Monday showed that some 57,000 veterans have waited more than three months for an appointment, and that 63,000 veterans never received a first appointment over the past 10 years. On Wednesday, the FBI announced that it would launch a criminal probe into mismanagement there.

VA Secretary Eric Shinseki resigned late last month over the scandal.

Gallup respondents were split on what they thought was the best solution to fixing the VA. Sixteen percent said their top fix was to provide better care in a more timely manner, while 11 percent backed firing employees of the department, and 10 percent suggested improving supervision and administration.

Another 9 percent of respondents backed allowing veterans to seek care outside the VA system, while equal numbers supported increasing funding for the system or overhauling it entirely.

"At the moment, a strong majority of Americans are following this matter closely, and Americans give the president low marks for his handling of it. This may have implications for policies and politics in 2014 and beyond," said Gallup's Art Swift in a statement. "It is clear that Americans have thoughtful responses as to how to fix the situation. From allowing veterans choice in their healthcare to improving the timeliness of treatment, there are several potential fixes to this imbroglio, some of which members of Congress will likely ponder in the months ahead."