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Tackling pre-K in 'a realistic and ambitious way'

If you missed Rachel's segment last night on President Obama's proposed universal pre-kindergarten program, it's well worth your time. While you're at it, read Jonathan Cohn's incredibly informative piece on the larger policy implications and Dylan Matthews' take on why pre-K is such a spectacular investment for a society to make.

The next question, I suppose, is a political one: won't congressional Republicans reflexively kill it? Some aren't prepared to give up so easily.

David Brooks isn't necessarily on board with much of the White House agenda, but he sees great value in Obama's pre-K plans. "President Obama has taken on a big challenge in a realistic and ambitious way," the columnist explained. "If Republicans really believe in opportunity and local control, they will get on board."

Well, sure, of course they would. The facts, evidence, arithmetic, and common sense all point in the same direction. Obama's plan hasn't been scored, but independent estimates suggest it would cost about $100 billion over 10 years, and that's (a) affordable; and (b) money incredibly well spent given the long-term effects.

Except as Jon Chait noted, "House Republicans are not the sort of people who, when presented with evidence of a really promising public investment program, nod their heads and say, 'okay, then!' They hate Big Government, and the fact that some Republican governors are already expanding early education is not likely to dissuade them."

Now, Chait has a vision in which Obama might get his early-ed funding if he trades it for sequester revenue. It's a provocative pitch, but at its root, the core question remains the same: are there circumstances in which the GOP can tolerate the policy or not?

Kevin Drum argues against it: "It costs money, it doesn't benefit the rich, and it's something Obama wants. That's three strikes, and that's all she wrote."

If the White House believes  otherwise, it's going to have to change the politics.