Hey, How About This Random Street Corner Guy For VA Secretary? How About Him?

Miller's the one in the suit. Crom only knows why he's hanging out with some slob.

After Donald Trump's attempt to install Ronny Jackson as secretary of Veterans Affairs fell apart, Trump said on Fox & Friends that he already had some "very political people" in mind for the job of privatizing VA health care. We were pretty sure he was bullshitting, but as it turns out, he may have just the perfect candidate in mind in former congressman Jeff Miller. Perfect for dismantling a healthcare system that veterans are very attached to, not for actually running the department, of course. The Washington Post reports,

The Florida Republican, who spent 16 years in Congress and now works in Washington as a lobbyist, met Wednesday with officials in the White House vetting office. Miller told people close to the White House that he expects to meet with Trump in coming days.

No formal announcement is planned until next week at the earliest, according to WaPo's sources, and there are still other possible candidates being considered, like maybe Rep. Ron DeSantis, also from Florida but currently in Congress. Trump said DeSantis would make a terrific governor of Florida, so you know DeSantis has the suckupitude needed to please the Schmuck in Chief. Miller might do, though, since he's a devoted privatization advocate as well as a lobbyist who got to work pushing for private interests shortly after leaving Congress. Mmm, good 'n swampy!

Miller could be a very attractive candidate for Trump, since while he was chair of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, he pushed at every opportunity for measures to shift veterans' health care from the VA to private providers, under the name of "choice." Before he retired from Congress after the 2016 election, Miller warned that if Hillary Clinton were elected, she'd stand in the way of letting vets get care at the private doctor of their choice, shame on her. Clinton opposed one of Miller's pet legislative projects, a report calling for expanding vouchers for vets to get care from private doctors while closing "underused" VA facilities -- why, she had the nerve to call it a scheme for privatization instead of using the code word "choice." Probably because it would have shifted funding from the VA providing services to the private sector, but gosh, that was mean of her.

Mainstream veterans organizations aren't too hot on Miller; they've been pulling for current VA Deputy Secretary Thomas G. Bowman, a Trump appointee who was confirmed by the Senate last year, but who has already fallen out of favor with Trump World because he opposed privatization of VA health services:

Top VA officials say that while veterans groups have a lot of faith in Bowman, the current leadership has sidelined him, leaving him out of meetings and not seeking his input on key decisions.

Miller, unfortunately, has the support of the Koch-backed astroturf group Concerned Veterans for America, which was ginned up largely for the purpose of pushing the privatization agenda. Or "market-based" reforms, don't you know. Dan Caldwell, A spokesman for the group, thinks Miller would be simply dandy:

He did very fine work as chairman [...] We know his approach to the issue would be thoughtful, and he didn’t rush into it before when the program started.

Translation: Miller won't need to be persuaded that shifting funds from VA facilities to private doctors and hospitals is a beautiful idea, because he's been on board with it forever.

Miller also worked on Trump's transition team on veterans' issues, at least as far as the transition actually gave any thought to policy; that didn't initially translate into a job in TrumpWorld, possibly because, as one of WaPo's sources said, the two "never clicked" -- and clicking is very important to Trump:

This person described any meeting between Trump and Miller as a “pulse check,” adding, “Trump is Trump, and he’s going to do what he wants to do.”

Miller, however, has the respect of key people in the president’s orbit because of his work with Trump on veterans issues during the campaign, the person said.

Oh, now don't go getting our hopes up, anonymous person. We'd love to think Trump might ultimately reject Miller because he just doesn't feel like the right guy, and if Trump's "key people" are pushing for Miller, that might actually make the pissy little president less likely to pick him. Not that any Trump pick would be considerably better, of course.

Screw it, how about Jared? You don't need a security clearance to fire doctors, do you?

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[WaPo / Chicago Tribune / Mother Jones / Image: Jeff Miller on Facebook]

Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.


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