THE BLOG
03/29/2013 04:15 pm ET Updated May 29, 2013

Close Corporate Tax Loopholes, Not Public Schools

If you're in a canoe that's got a hole letting in water, do you throw the other passenger overboard who is helping you row, or do you just patch the hole and keep rowing?

Chicago public schools are facing a $1 billion deficit. The corporate media would like you to believe it's due to excessive spending and that Mayor Rahm Emanuel's proposal to close more than 50 schools, most of them in low-income neighborhoods, is the only solution. But the state of Illinois loses $4.8 billion annually in federal tax dollars due to corporate tax loopholes that shift profits overseas. It doesn't take a math genius to see that simply closing these excessive loopholes would save the schools that so many kids in Chicago depend upon for their education.

These corporate tax loopholes cost us over $100 billion a year in federal tax dollars, which results in state and local budget cuts and tax hikes due to a decreased allocation of federal funds. The corporations most known for complex offshore tax avoidance schemes get these loopholes by spending millions on hiring armies of lobbyists and in campaign donations to chairmen and ranking members of tax-writing committees in Congress.

The lobbyists submit draft paragraphs of new gimmicks and loopholes to those committees. The campaign donations continue to flow toward reelection campaigns with the understanding that those who are making the donations get what they want out of their sponsored politicians. Thanks to this corrupt process, the tax code grows longer and more complex year after year, the most recent version topping out at roughly 72,000 pages.

There is already legislation on the books in both the House and Senate to close most of these loopholes and rein in roughly $60 billion a year. A small sales tax on Wall Street transactions would raise roughly $150 billion a year, more than enough to offset the cuts that are closing 50 schools. These aren't radical solutions; they're based on the simple premise that if you hire Americans, sell to Americans, use American public services and infrastructure and make the bulk of your profits in America, you should pay the American corporate tax rate of 35 percent.

Ever since Brown vs. Board of Education, there has been a coordinated right-wing attack on free education. The latest plot is an attempt to close public schools and turn them into low-performing, for-profit charter schools funded by Wall Street bankers and hedge fund managers. The attempts to do this are disguised as "reform," but are really little more than an effort to bust teachers' unions and cede public education over to the authority of big corporations.

Public schools to educate our children aren't a burden to the state, they're an investment. If you want more kids to grow up into responsible, successful adults who contribute to our society, and if you want lower crime rates and prison populations, investing in good public education makes sense. We need our kids to help row the canoe down the river, not throw them out while ignoring the gaping hole in the boat. It's time to stop making our kids pay for their crisis.