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Talking About the Tax Man: Brookings Institution Scholar Vanessa Williamson on Oct. 30 Examines Americans’ Commitment to Paying Taxes

Written on:October 16, 2017
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Washington College
CHESTERTOWN, MD

Vanessa Williamson, whose new book Read My Lips: Why Americans Are Proud to Pay Taxes argues that Americans view paying their taxes as a moral and civic responsibility, will be on campus on October 30, 2017 to discuss her work.

The program at 5 p.m. in Hynson Lounge, Hodson Hall, is the final installment in this semester’s Louis L. Goldstein Program in Public Affairs. It is free and open to the public

Photo: Vanessa Williamson

Vanessa Williamson – Promotional Photo

A Fellow in Governance Studies at Brookings, Williamson studies the politics of redistribution, with a focus on attitudes about taxation. Her work challenges the conventional wisdom that Americans hate taxes, instead positing that Americans view taxpaying as a moral obligation, a sign that one is a contributing member of the community and the nation. Many worry that some people are shirking their tax responsibilities and that government uses their money to benefit the elite few rather than the public interest. Ironically, Williamson argues, the depth of the American civic commitment to taxpaying makes the failures of government, perceived and real, especially potent frustrations.

Williamson is also the author, with Harvard professor Theda Skocpol, of The Tea Party and the Remaking of Republican Conservatism, which examines how the Tea Party pushed the Republican Party farther to the right. The book was named one of the ten best political books of the year in The New Yorker. Her other work includes examinations of the political origins of the state Earned Income Tax Credit, the electoral effects of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the conditions in which voters have supported state tax increases, and the factors predicting protests against police brutality.

Williamson has testified before Congress and appeared on CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS,” MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show,” and Al Jazeera America. She has written in a variety of outlets, including a recent op-ed on Donald Trump’s non-payment of taxes in the Sunday edition of The New York Times, a Teen Vogue piece on the defense of democracy in America, as well as for The Atlantic, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and her hometown newspaper, The Sacramento Bee. Her work has also been cited by The Economist, the Associated Press, The Washington Post, and on National Public Radio, among other sources.

Williamson previously served as the Policy Director for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. She received her Ph.D. in Government and Social Policy from Harvard University. She has a master’s degree from NYU’s Institute of French Studies, and received her B.A. in French language and literature from NYU.

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