David Shulkin was, until recently, the secretary of the Veterans Administration. He was a former hospital administrator and just about everyone thought he was doing a good job in difficult circumstances. Everybody would include the veterans, the congress, the veteran organizations and so on. Early on, even Trump praised his efforts to get bi-partisan support for changes at the VA.
In spite of these successes, Shulkin wasn’t as keen on privatizing the VA as Trump and some of his close supporters. After all, the budget of the VA is now approaching $200 B and that’s a lot of money going to government facilities that could be going to private interests.
So on March 27 Shulkin was fired by a Trump tweet, and replaced by Ronny Jackson, the White House physician. Never mind that Jackson has little management experience of any kind, let alone health care experience. Apparently Trump liked Jackson’s glowing report of Trump’s health and that’s good enough.
Shulkin lost no time and wrote an editorial in the NYT about how privatizing the VA would be a really bad idea. Since then other details have emerged about this affair. The White House tried to say that Shulkin resigned. He says that’s nonsense – he was fired by tweet.
Regardless of how one feels about privatizing the VA, this was a really crappy way of handling it. Shulkin says he even talked to Trump that morning and nothing was said about the firing that occurred later that day. And Trump didn’t even have the balls to do it in person or even by phone.
Probably Trump is calculating that if Jackson is corrupt enough to give him such a glowing physical (in spite of some problems) then he will also be corrupt enough to support Trump’s desire to privatize the VA. Jackson has to be confirmed by the Senate and there’s little doubt he will be.