The National Education Association is campaigning to close corporate tax loopholes and use the proceeds on education programs. Closing the seven largest corporate tax loopholes would generate $1.487 trillion in revenue over 10 years, according to Citizens for Tax Justice and the NEA, and could be used to dramatically increase funding on a set of education programs that would increase educational opportunity for students from preschool to college. TPM's Brian Beutler notes that:
The push comes weeks after the Obama administration released a framework for corporate tax reforms that would be revenue neutral, suggesting a schism between the powerful union and the White House. But in a Monday interview, NEA President Dennis Van Roekel applauded Obama’s record on education and said his group’s push is meant to raise awareness of one of many ways to finance more federal investment in education.It would take just 28 percent of the $1.487 trillion raised by closing the seven corporate tax loopholes the NEA identifies to increase Pell Grants to cover half the cost of a public four-year college for the first time since 1988. Preschool for poor children under five would take 24 percent of the money raised; 19 percent would provide funding for low-income and struggling students; 14 percent would meet federal funding obligations to educate students with disabilities. (All links PDF.)
To take one of these examples, the conventional wisdom on Pell Grants is that "Because of the program’s size, it’s hard for federal policymakers to get much bang for their buck"—in other words, because a lot of people benefit from it, increasing the size of the grants is expensive. But thinking big and putting the cost of increasing Pell Grants up against the revenues that could be raised by making corporations pay something closer to their fair share is a vivid demonstration of the fact that it shouldn't be seen as so impossible to fund a program that helps low-income kids get to college—but currently doesn't meet their needs, leaving them to take on unsustainable levels of debt to graduate.
Of course if all of these corporate tax loopholes were to be closed, the money wouldn't all go to education. But this campaign allows the NEA to simultaneously draw attention to the massive undertaxing of corporations and to the massive underfunding of important educational programs; it also gives the union a way to push Obama from the left without being critical of him.