Paul Jacob

Chalk it up to “administrative error.”

Phoenix Veterans Affairs Health Care System Director Sharon Helman was awarded an $8,500 bonus, even as her VA health care operation underwent investigation for falsifying patient information to hide the long wait times that reportedly have caused the deaths of 40 veterans.

The bonus has now, after much publicity, been rescinded.

Sadly, the veterans who died because of a fraudulently inefficient system cannot be brought back to life.

The bonus money merely adds insult to a much more serious injury — one we now know extends far beyond Phoenix. The investigation has already spread to 26 facilities. It is likely to grow.

Major veterans organizations demand that Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki resign, or that the president, who once again claimed to have unearthed the crisis from media reports, find a replacement for him.

The first pink slips should belong to a White House staff apparently incapable of briefing the Great O on . . . well, anything. But by all means, the POTUS should certainly keep his cable TV bill paid up.

(Unless, by some strange happenstance, he’s fibbing to the nation about being so clueless.)

As for Shinseki, a logical first step in a accountability crisis might be to replace a failing leader, signaling in deeds, not just words, that those tasked with serving the people will be held accountable. Perhaps, however, Mr. Obama and his strategists might understandably fear where this thorny concept could lead.

Regardless, the Secretary should go and the personnel changes shouldn’t stop there. And those guilty of fraud should face criminal charges, if warranted — not simply be removed from their position.

But none of the above will likely be implemented. Instead of action, we’ll get words.

“As commander in chief, I believe that taking care of our veterans and their families is a scared obligation,” Barack Obama said in his weekly public address. “It’s been one of the causes of my presidency.”

Really? The VA healthcare system has been one of the president’s “causes”? So, this isn’t an issue of neglect?

Socialist Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has gone the furthest trying to protect the VA, perhaps because he and his fellow socialist-minded leftists have so lionized the government-owned-and-operated health care system as proof that socialized medicine can indeed work well.

Well . . .

He is now floating the idea of introducing new legislation to allow for the termination of Veterans Affairs managers and personnel without so much red tape, much like the three-page bill that passed the House. Except Sanders seems intent on waving that same cut-red-tape banner while keeping much of the red tape.

Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.