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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.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Two things that just don't belong together (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    PatriciaVa, VClib

    We could close those tax loopholes (though two of the smaller ones don't really seem to be loopholes), but there is no logical reason any of the proceeds should go to education.

    Similarly, if more federal funding for education is good, it shouldn't be dependent on whether the revenue source is corporate tax loopholes.  

    Politically, it seems ok, though not great.

    •  As logical as anything else. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I mean, of course, it's not automatic or even necessarily likely. But as a way to reorient the discussion from "we can't afford this" to "we could if," it's reasonable move. And spending the proceeds on education would make as much sense as anything else the government is currently underfunding.

      •  How about reducing the deficit? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        "We can't afford this" is the state we are in now.  We cannot afford 1.4 Trillion of the spending we are currently doing per year.  We are borrowing it every year.

        Now you want to increase revenues by $1.5 Trillion and spend every cent???

        •  We have borrowed practically every year (0+ / 0-)

          of our existence.

          What we can afford depend entirely on 1) what we take in and 2) growth.  Attempts to balance the budget mean reducing growth, which means (in this economy) further economic collapse.  That means 1) more money spent on countercyclical programs 2) less tax money coming in, thereby making the deficit even higher.

          One way you can tell that the deficit isn't actually a problem is that as soon as it was eliminated (due to growth and broad based wage increases) all the supposed deficit hawks in Washington insisting we cut taxes thereby restoring deficits.  They use 'deficits' as a justification for cutting popular programs.

          Politics is the art of the possible, but that means you have to think about changing what is possible, not that you have to accept it in perpetuity. @DavidKaib

          by David Kaib on Tue Apr 10, 2012 at 09:01:41 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Close fed loopholes / more fed ctl over education? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jerry J

    Would the NEA acquiesce to significantly more federal control over education, including consolidating bureaucracy at the federal level?

    A medium-size community wants more federal funds.  If I were in the Executive Branch, I would respond, fine, but consolidate your school district with the adjacent one, thereby eliminating one layer of useless bureaucracy.

    Fact:  the US has FAR too many school administrators, many earning more than even Secretary Geithner, who would be earning at most 40K in the private sector.

    So, more money for teachers in return for far more federal control over school districts, including the ability to unilaterally consolidate school districts.

    How would the NEA respond?

    Learn about Centrist Economics, learn about Robert Rubin's Hamilton Project.

    by PatriciaVa on Tue Apr 10, 2012 at 09:46:47 AM PDT

    •  The NEA's response wouldn't matter. (0+ / 0-)

      It would be the states who would vociferously object to that—and rightly so, since that would be an instance of the federal government significantly overstepping its bounds.

      "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

      by JamesGG on Tue Apr 10, 2012 at 09:50:05 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Many argue that the fed govt oversteps its bounds. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Jerry J giving one dollar too many to education, which isn't even mentioned in the Constitution.

        What I am proposing is more than fair.  More federal funds in exchange for more federal control.

        If the states object, then they can forgo the federal funds.

        Learn about Centrist Economics, learn about Robert Rubin's Hamilton Project.

        by PatriciaVa on Tue Apr 10, 2012 at 10:37:36 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  RE Special Education funds, Federal Gov. already (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      has control, but hasn't fully funded the mandate.  Therefore, states and municipal governments have had to fill-in the funding via taxes or do without properly educating this population.

    •  PatriciaVa - another view (0+ / 0-)

      From all the data I have seen there are no economies of scale in school districts and the ratio of spending on administration actually goes up as the size of school districts increases, rather than smaller. In my view we should make school districts very small and shrink the district administration to a very small spartan staff. Big school districts seem to be self perpetuating bureaucracies. In any event I agree with you, let's lower the administration cost ratio by whatever means and invest the savings in the classroom.

      "let's talk about that"

      by VClib on Tue Apr 10, 2012 at 01:40:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Good if they find the loopholes to close (0+ / 0-)

    because Paul Ryan can't name any yet they are key to his plan.

  •  Mother Jones' David Cay Johnston (0+ / 0-)

    has a 14 point project for getting rid of loopholes.

    1) quit cooking the books
    2) Make the superrich pay their share
    3) End legal tax cheating
    4) Invade the Caymans (not really)
    5) Cut off the utility scam
    6) Ground the private jet exemption
    7) demolish the mansion deduction
    8) defang the loan sharks
    9) Save our savings
    10) protect pensions
    11) End the burglar-alarm subsidy
    12) Stop indenturing students
    13) Drag the IRS into the 21st century

    It is worth a look.  I don't think that all the money would go to education, but any strong look at government waste is all good.  

    "Conservatives care from conception to crowning." VetGrl " It's just a matter of time before the Republicans realize the Ten Commandments are "regulations."" TriassicSands

    by sailmaker on Tue Apr 10, 2012 at 10:36:43 AM PDT

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