WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama was on the road again Thursday to win public support for enlarging early childhood education programs as concerns grow about the future of young students from poor backgrounds.
Obama's team is warning Congress — and lawmakers' constituents — what is expected to happen if leaders fail to avert $85 billion in automatic budget cuts set to begin March 1. Obama's State of the Union address Tuesday made clear he was not looking for compromise as he began his second term.
"I propose working with states to make high-quality preschool available to every child in America," Obama said.
Still missing from Obama's early education plan are any details about the cost, a key concern among Republicans. But Obama's aides have stressed that the new programs would not add to the nation's nearly $16.5 trillion debt.
If the White House wants to move ahead, officials are going to need help from the states to provide political cover and dollars alike. House Speaker John Boehner said Thursday involving the federal government in early childhood education was "a good way to screw it up."
Obama is expected to outline details about the plan's cost when he sends his 2014 budget proposal to Congress next month.
The automatic, across-the-board budget cuts were designed to kick in only if lawmakers failed to reach a broad agreement to reduce the nation's debt.
Associated Press writers Phillip Elliott, Josh Lederman, Julie Pace and Jim Kuhnhenn contributed to this report.
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