My dissertation challenges the common portrayal of the modern American “tax revolt” as a conservative movement that culminated in events like California’s Proposition 13 in 1978, Reagan’s 1981 tax cuts, and the “Tea Party.” Instead, my research shows that Americans’ pocketbook frustrations – not rising conservatism – drove the “tax revolt.” For decades prior to Prop 13, rising taxes and inflation created a “pocketbook squeeze” on lower- and middle-income Americans, while exposés of tax “loopholes” that benefitted the wealthy stoked public anger. Rather than conservatives, left-leaning activists in the consumer, labor, and black freedom movements, among others, were the first to successfully harness the public’s tax discontent in the late-‘60s and early-‘70s. In part, my dissertation seeks to explain the puzzle of how a movement that began on the left is now seen as synonymous with the right.
“‘Take the Rich off Welfare’: Rising Taxes, Glaring Loopholes, and the Temporary Triumph of Left-Leaning Tax Populism” ?Organizer and presenter, “Rethinking Taxes, Capitalism, and the State in Modern U.S. Politics and Policy” panel, Business History Conference, Columbus, Ohio, March 2013
“The Other Tax Revolt: Pocketbook Discontent, the Grassroots Left, and the Local Origins of National Tax Politics”? Co-organizer and presenter, “Follow the Money: How Taxes, Banks, and Mortgages Reconfigured American Politics During the Long 1970s” panel, Policy History Conference, Richmond, Virginia, June 2012