Skyrocketing College Tuition and a Precedent on Drones — Today’s Q’s for O’s WH — 6/5/12

Jun 5, 2012 4:20pm

TAPPER: Why are tuitions skyrocketing so much? And what has become of the administration — previous proposals by the administration to try to clamp down on this by threatening to withhold federal funds if tuitions kept — keep rising?

EDUCATION SECRETARY ARNE DUNCAN: The biggest driver of increased tuition is states cutting back funding. That’s the biggest driver. And so where states, you know, continue to invest, where we can challenge that, then we can continue to challenge universities to be efficient and to be more effective and to be more productive and to use technology.

But our goal for Race to the Top for Higher Education is threefold. One is to incentivize states to continue to invest. Secondly is to incentivize universities to keep tuition down.

And many places are doing very creative things in tough economic times — not everybody, but a lot. And then finally — I keep saying this — can’t just be about access, it’s got to be about completion. So where universities are building cultures around completion, where first-generation college-goers and English language learners and Pell Grant recipients are graduating, we want to use Race to the Top resources to incentivize that behavior. It’s got to be about shared responsibility. We have to play, states have to play, universities have to play.

TAPPER: Just a quick follow-up, when you talked about some of the creative solutions, are you referring to the program recently profiled in Ohio where they’re selling off this lease to all of the parking and privatizing the airport and –

DUNCAN: I don’t know that one specifically, but you see universities who are going to three-year programs, going to no-frills campuses. You see universities doing very different things. It’s actually really interesting, those introductory classes that often wash out half the students — half the students fail, they’re actually doing some really creative things with technology, driving down costs and increasing passing rates pretty substantially.

So there’s lots of work that, you know, universities are doing in a creative way to control costs and to make sure students are staying in there. We have to take those best practices to scale. We have to make that the norm rather than the exception.

**

TAPPER: Did your intelligence sources provide information about whether or not there were any other people killed other than al-Libi?

CARNEY: I don’t have anything more for you except for the confirmation that they have that al-Libi is dead. Beyond that, I would refer you to other agencies.

TAPPER: It’s not difficult to foresee a world in which the United States is not the only country with this kind of technology. Is the administration at all concerned about the precedent being set in terms of secrecy, in terms of operating military craft in other sovereign nations and what we might see as a result when China or Russia get their hands on drones?

CARNEY: Again, I can’t discuss methods from here, and I do not — I won’t discuss –

TAPPER: I’m not asking you to –

CARNEY: Well, this is in relation, obviously, to the particular incident that we’ve been discussing, and I can’t get into details about al-Libi’s death, the circumstances or the location. You know, I would simply say that this president is firmly committed to carrying out his policy objectives in Afghanistan and in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, which is to disrupt, dismantle and ultimately defeat al Qaeda. He is committed to disrupting, dismantling and ultimately defeating al Qaeda beyond that region too. That’s why we cooperate with countries around the world in efforts to counter al Qaeda and other extremists.

TAPPER: OK, not relating this question to the death of al-Libi, the United States has this technology. President Obama has said that the administration should be more transparent about it. Is there not any concern that the administration has that there is a precedent being set? We have just heard Assad this week blame the massacre that took place in Houla on terrorists. Any country -

CARNEY: And I heard a collective rolling of the eyes –

TAPPER: I’m not –

CARNEY: — or saw a collective rolling of the eyes around the globe –

TAPPER: Right.

CARNEY: — because everyone knows how preposterous that assertion is.

TAPPER: But that’s my point. And countries claim terrorism as a justification for their actions all the time. Even positing that the United States, under any president, only acts righteously every time, is there not any concern that a precedent is being set either for some future president and/or any other country?

CARNEY: Jake, without getting into — without getting into very sensitive issues that go to the core of our national security interests, I can simply say that this president, this commander in chief, puts a great deal of thought and care into the prosecution of and implementation of the policy decisions he makes. And that includes in the effort to combat al Qaeda in the Af-Pak region and around — and around the world.

There is no question, as the President has stated on many occasions, that the decisions that a commander in chief has to make when it comes to war and peace, when it comes to defending the United States and protecting the United States and our allies, are weighty, serious decisions. And he treats them that way every time he makes one.

TAPPER: What gives the United States the moral foundation to object in the future to — when Russia -

PETER MAER, CBS NEWS RADIO: (inaudible)

TAPPER: I’m sorry?

MAER: I’m just wondering how many questions. I mean, maybe it’s — you should have it — like, an interview with him somewhere.

CARNEY: Go ahead.

TAPPER: Do you mind if I continue?

MAER : Go right ahead.

TAPPER: I was just wondering what the — where the moral foundation comes from, the United States objects in the future to an action being taken by China or Russia along these same lines?

CARNEY: Well, I reject the comparison. But I would simply say that — as I said just now, that this president, this administration, takes very seriously the decisions that are involved in the effort to disrupt, dismantle and defeat al Qaeda.

But this president is absolutely committed to that objective. As commander in chief, as president, protection of the United States, protection of American citizens, protection of our allies and our interests, are a high priority, the highest. And that will be the case as long as he’s in office.

UPDATE: Please note that White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan in his speech on drones in April noted that the U.S. was “establishing precedents that other nations may follow, and not all of those nations may — and not all of them will be nations that share our interests or the premium we put on protecting human life, including innocent civilians,” and he addressed the “rigorous standards and process of review” to which he said the U.S. adheres.

-Jake Tapper

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