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Weekly Address: Vice President Biden – Tuition Free Community College

The President’s Weekly Address post is also an Open News Thread. Feel free to share other news stories in the comments.


From the White HouseWeekly Address

In this week’s address, the Vice President laid out his and the President’s plan to make two years of community college free for responsible students.

Access to higher education has a tangible impact on a student’s success: Those with an associate’s degree earn 25% more than folks who graduated high school, and those with a four-year degree make 70% more. Not only that, but a better educated citizenry is necessary to ensure that the United States continues to out-compete the rest of the world.

Making two years of community college free is good for workers, good for companies, and good for our economy. And this proposal is part of the President’s broader vision for middle-class economics: that everybody who works hard deserves their fair shot and the chance to get ahead.

Transcript: Weekly Address: Tuition-Free Community College

Ladies and Gentlemen, this is Joe Biden and I’m here filling in for President Obama, who is traveling abroad.

And I’m here with a simple message: middle-class economics works.

Our economy has gone from crisis to recovery to now to resurgence-with the longest streak of consecutive job growth ever recorded in the history of this country and more than all other advanced countries combined.

But to make sure everyone is part of this resurgence, we need to build on what we know widens the path to the middle class-and you all know what it is, access to education.

Folks, the source of our economic power and middle class strength in the 20th Century was the fact that we were among the first major nations in the world to provide twelve years of free education for our citizens.

But in the 21st Century, other countries have already caught up and twelve years is simply no longer enough-a minimum of fourteen years is necessary for families to have a surer path to the middle class and for the United States to be able to out-compete the rest of the world.

Consider that by the end of the decade, two out of three of all jobs will require an education beyond high school, from an 18-week certificate to a two-year associate’s degree to a four-year bachelor’s, or a PhD.

And consider that folks with an associate’s degree earn 25% more than someone who graduated just from high school. And folks who graduate with a four-year degree make 70% more.

But today, the cost of higher education is too high for too many Americans. Too many folks are priced out of a piece of the middle-class dream.

And that’s why the President and I have a straightforward plan to remove that barrier and expand the pathway to the middle class-by bringing the cost of community colleges down-down to zero.

Zero-for anyone willing to work for it and for the institutions that meet certain basic requirements.

Our plan is no give-away. Students must keep up their grades and stay on track to graduate. States must contribute funding and hold community colleges accountable for the results. And community colleges must maintain high graduation and job placement rates.

And here’s a key point-community colleges will have to offer courses that are directly transferrable to a four-year degree.

If two years of community college are free-and credits can transfer to a four-year university-that means the cost of a four-year degree will be cut in half for a lot of working families struggling to send their children to college, qualified children.

And under our plan, students from low-income families will be able to keep the benefits that flow from other financial aid, like Pell grants, to cover childcare, housing, transportation-costs that often keep them from attending class and completing a degree in the first place.

But here’s another key point. Not every good-paying job will require a two-year or four-year degree. Some of these jobs will require just a training certificate that can be earned in just a few months.

For example, you can go to an 18-week coding bootcamp-with no previous experience in computers-and become a computer programmer making up to $70,000 a year.

There are other jobs in fields like advanced manufacturing and energy that pay $40,000, $50,000, $60,000 a year-jobs you can raise a family on.

It’s a simple fact that community colleges are the most flexible educational institutions we have. I’ve traveled all over this country, from New York to Iowa to California, to see how community colleges create partnerships with Fortune 500 companies and local businesses to generate jobs; support apprenticeships with organized labor, and prepare hardworking students for good-paying jobs in the areas in which they live.

Making community colleges free is good for workers, it’s good for companies, and it’s good for our economy.

Here’s what we propose: Close loopholes for the wealthiest investors and levy a .07% fee on the biggest banks to discourage the kind of risky behavior that crashed our economy just a few years ago.

Doing just that would pay for free community college-and provide a leg up for working families through tax credits to cover necessities like childcare.

That’s what middle-class economics is all about-giving folks a fair chance to get ahead. A fair tax code. No guarantees. Just a fair chance.

It’s simple folks, two years of community college should become as free and as universal as high school is today if we’re to make this economic resurgence permanent and well into the 21st Century.

So I want to thank you all for listening. I hope you have a great weekend and God bless you all and may God protect our troops.

Bolding added.



  1. January 9, 2015: FACT SHEET – White House Unveils America’s College Promise Proposal: Tuition-Free Community College for Responsible Students

    Nearly a century ago, a movement that made high school widely available helped lead to rapid growth in the education and skills training of Americans, driving decades of economic growth and prosperity. America thrived in the 20th century in large part because we had the most educated workforce in the world.  But other nations have matched or exceeded the secret to our success. Today, more than ever, Americans need more knowledge and skills to meet the demands of a growing global economy without having to take on decades of debt before they even embark on their career.

    Today the President is unveiling the America’s College Promise proposal to make two years of community college free for responsible students, letting students earn the first half of a bachelor’s degree and earn skills needed in the workforce at no cost. This proposal will require everyone to do their part: community colleges must strengthen their programs and increase the number of students who graduate, states must invest more in higher education and training, and students must take responsibility for their education, earn good grades, and stay on track to graduate. The program would be undertaken in partnership with states and is inspired by new programs in Tennessee and Chicago. If all states participate, an estimated 9 million students could benefit. A full-time community college student could save an average of $3,800 in tuition per year.

  2. On this:

    For example, you can go to an 18-week coding bootcamp-with no previous experience in computers-and become a computer programmer making up to $70,000 a year.

    I think it is may be misleading to suggest that the person with no previous experience in computers who takes an 18-week coding bootcamp “becomes” a computer programmer making up to $70,000 a year like it is an instant transformation.

    First, there is more to programming than the mechanics of learning code. There are few environments where you simply sit down and write code: there is analysis and design, much of which takes experience and an understanding of the interaction of your code with the larger system it is being implemented in. The people who are really good at this, and combine it with business knowledge and technical training on operating systems and server applications might make $70,000 a year. But a low-level coder, who shows proficiency (no guarantee, it is not like learning how to add two numbers) and an understanding of the systems, probably starts at a salary closer to $30,000. That is good money, no doubt, and you can make more but to say that after this boot-camp you become a programmer capable of making $70,000 a year is probably a bit misleading.

  3. Transcript: Remarks by President Obama at the Civil Society Forum, Hotel El Panama, Panama City, Panama, 4:35 P.M. EST

    PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Buenas tardes.  Thank you, President Varela.  Thank you very much, Panama, for hosting this Summit of the Americas.  And I thank everybody who’s traveled here from across the region for the courageous work that you do to defend freedom and human rights, and to promote equality and opportunity and justice across our hemisphere and around the world.

    I am proud to be with you at this first-ever official gathering of civil society leaders at the Summit of the Americas. And I’m pleased to have Cuba represented with us at this summit for the very first time.  (Applause.)

    We’re here for a very simple reason.  We believe that strong, successful countries require strong and vibrant civil societies.  We know that throughout our history, human progress has been propelled not just by famous leaders, not just by states, but by ordinary men and women who believe that change is possible; by citizens who are willing to stand up against incredible odds and great danger not only to protect their own rights, but to extend rights to others.[…]

    So civil society is the conscience of our countries.  It’s the catalyst of change.  It’s why strong nations don’t fear active citizens.  Strong nations embrace and support and empower active citizens.  And by the way, it’s not as if active citizens are always right — they’re not.  Sometimes people start yelling at me or arguing at me, and I think, you don’t know what you’re talking about.  But sometimes they do.  And the question is not whether they’re always right; the question is, do you have a society in which that conversation, that debate can be tested and ideas are tested in the marketplace. […]

    Just to take one example:  As the United States begins a new chapter in our relationship with Cuba, we hope it will create an environment that improves the lives of the Cuban people — not because it’s imposed by us, the United States, but through the talent and ingenuity and aspirations, and the conversation among Cubans from all walks of life so they can decide what the best course is for their prosperity.

    As we move toward the process of normalization, we’ll have our differences, government to government, with Cuba on many issues — just as we differ at times with other nations within the Americas; just as we differ with our closest allies.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  But I’m here to say that when we do speak out, we’re going to do so because the United States of America does believe, and will always stand for, a certain set of universal values.  And when we do partner with civil society, it’s because we believe our relationship should be with governments and with the peoples that they represent.

    Full remarks at the link.

  4. NY Times BREAKING NEWS Saturday, April 11, 2015 4:06 PM EDT

    In Historic Meeting, Obama and Raúl Castro Discuss Thaw in U.S.-Cuba Relations

    President Obama and President Raúl Castro of Cuba met Saturday, in the first face-to-face discussion between the leaders of the two countries in a half century.

    The meeting on the sidelines of the Summit of the Americas was an important step for Mr. Obama as he seeks to ease tensions with Cuba and defuse a generations-old dispute that has also affected relations with the countries of the region. Ever since his first foray to the summit three months after taking office, Mr. Obama has seen one bone of contention frustrate his efforts to reach out to America’s hemispheric neighbors: the fact that Cuba was blackballed from the gathering.

    He was scolded by Argentina’s president for maintaining an “anachronistic blockade,” lectured by Bolivia’s president about behaving “like a dictatorship,” and, in 2012, blamed for the failure of leaders to agree that year on a joint declaration – the result, his Colombian host said, of the dispute over Cuba.

    This year, Mr. Obama came to the summit meeting here determined to change the dynamic with a series of overtures to Cuba.


  5. DeniseVelez

    Mitch McConnell And The GOP For Undermining America

    a must read :)

    hat tip to ericlewis0 at Orange

    The President said:

    Last comment I’m going to make on this. When I hear some, like Senator McCain recently, suggest that our Secretary of State, John Kerry, who served in the United States Senate, a Vietnam veteran, who’s provided exemplary service to this nation, is somehow less trustworthy in the interpretation of what’s in a political agreement than the Supreme Leader of Iran – that’s an indication of the degree to which partisanship has crossed all boundaries. And we’re seeing this again and again. We saw it with the letter by the 47 senators who communicated directly to the Supreme Leader of Iran – the person that they say can’t be trusted at all – warning him not to trust the United States government.

    We have Mitch McConnell trying to tell the world, oh, don’t have confidence in the U.S. government’s abilities to fulfill any climate change pledge that we might make. And now we have a senator suggesting that our Secretary of State is purposely misinterpreting the deal and giving the Supreme Leader of Iran the benefit of the doubt in the interpretations.

    That’s not how we’re supposed to run foreign policy, regardless of who’s President or Secretary of State. We can have arguments, and there are legitimate arguments to be had. I understand why people might be mistrustful of Iran. I understand why people might oppose the deal – although the reason is not because this is a bad deal per se, but they just don’t trust any deal with Iran, and may prefer to take a military approach to it.

    But when you start getting to the point where you are actively communicating that the United States government and our Secretary of State is somehow spinning presentations in a negotiation with a foreign power, particularly one that you say is your enemy, that’s a problem. It needs to stop.

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