McCaskill
4:52 pm
Wed March 9, 2011

McCaskill offers her views on John Cochran, Libya and the budget

Sen. Claire McCaskill says two new federal reports out about health care at the John Cochran veteran's hospital in St. Louis are only part of the picture she wants to get on that facility.

The inspector general on Monday released reports on problems with sterilization at the hospital's dental clinic, and on complaints from employees that they did not have the equipment they needed to do their jobs.

Those reports are important because they outline existing problems, McCaskill says, but the specifics on dealing with those problems have to come from veterans. And that's where her new customer satisfaction survey comes in.

"I really want to see this through the eyes of veterans. I want to know how they feel on an individual basis about the services they’re receiving, and I think that's going to be a very good measure of the work we have to do, she says."

Libya

Also this morning during her weekly call with reporters, McCaskill expressed some hesitancy with a no-fly zone over Libya.

There's no question that dictator Moammar Gadahfi needs to go, McCaskill says, but military intervention could be prohibitively expensive.

"We are trying to get our fiscal house in order, and so if we're even going to consider that, it would need to be a very clear strategy with a very clear result that we're looking for," she said. "And the biggest problem that we have right now is we're not really sure who those rebels are.

Budget

And in advance of her "no" votes on competing spending plans outlined by Democrats and Republicans, McCaskill expressed frustration that the budgeting process is stuck on the last six months of the current year, rather than focusing on the structural problems.

The House plan, McCaskill says, "represents the wrong priorities" and did not represent "intelligence if you look at the entire budget. No one in a business that needed to cut back would cut all of the money from just 12 percent of their business expenses."

But she was no less critical of a plan floated by fellow Democrats.

"The cuts are not substantial enough," she says. "They represent another $6.5 (billion) on the top of the $4 billion we've already cut, and I think we need to do more than what the Democratic proposal has done."