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Joe Biden to conclude three-day visit to Southern California

Biden will be speakign at the Patient Safety, Science and Technology Summit in Irvine today. Courtesy Image
Biden will be speakign at the Patient Safety, Science and Technology Summit in Irvine today. Courtesy Image

Vice President Joe Biden is scheduled to conclude a three- day visit to Southern California by speaking at the Patient Safety, Science and Technology Summit in Irvine today.

The event is organized by the Patient Safety Movement Foundation, which has set a goal of reducing preventable deaths to zero by 2020.

Former President Bill Clinton spoke at the event at the Hotel Irvine on Friday, declaring, “I believe that all over the country the deaths from hospital-incurred infections are going to go down dramatically ’cause more and more people are just going to do what they need to do. It’s pretty basic and it’s hard to justify not doing it.”

Biden met with students and administrators at West Los Angeles College Friday, touting President Barack Obama’s proposal to provide two free years of community college.

“We have a gigantic opportunity to do a great service not only to our children and our young people and people who need to be retrained, but we have a gigantic opportunity to position the United States of America in a position for the second half of the second decade of this century to lead the world — this is not hyperbole — lead the economy of the world for the next 50 years,” Biden said.

Obama’s proposal would make community college free for two years for students who maintain a grade-point average of at least 2.5 and make steady progress toward a degree or transfer to a four-year university.

During his State of the Union address Tuesday, Obama said 40 percent of college students attend a community college.

“Whoever you are, this plan is your chance to graduate ready for the new economy, without a load of debt,” Obama said.

The proposal calls for the federal government to cover 75 percent of the average cost of community college, with states picking up the rest. The proposal is expected to cost $60 billion over the next 10 years.

Congressional Republicans have essentially called the plan, which would be funded largely by tax hikes on high-income Americans and a fee on large banks, a non-starter.

“We added more debt during the Obama years than all the presidents from George Washington down to George Bush,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, said in an interview to be broadcast Sunday on the CBS news magazine “60 Minutes.”

“The last thing we need to do to these young people is add more debt and giving away free tuition strikes me as something we can’t afford.”

Biden insisted, however, that the cost of college has become prohibitive for many people, and the added cost of housing, transportation and child care make higher education an even tougher goal to achieve.

Biden said that would change, however, “if you were able to have your first two years free because the community college has the course structure that’s transferable.”

In addition to students and administrators, local business owners also took part in the event.

Ninio Fetalvo, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee, accused Obama and Biden of “misleading the American people on their college proposal, claiming it’s free, when in reality it costs billions of dollars and taxes the college savings plans of middle-class Americans.”

Biden began the visit Thursday by taping an appearance on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.”

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