Obama proposed spending US$75 billion over 10 years and US$1.3 billion in the first year on the early education program in his budget for this year. He would have had smokers pay for it by increasing cigarette taxes to US$1.95 per pack from US$1.01 and indexing the tax to inflation.
While that issue gained little traction, Obama is betting a fall deadline will force action on another one of his proposals: US$302 billion for transportation projects, an idea he hopes will attract some Republican support.
Legislation authorizing federal highway, rail and transit spending lapses on Sept. 30. While both the AFL-CIO, the nation’s largest labor union, and the US Chamber of Commerce back efforts to upgrade transportation, Democrats and Republicans disagree on how to pay for highway repair.