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Vanessa Williamson

Vanessa Williamson

Fellow - Governance Studies

Vanessa Williamson is a Fellow in Governance Studies at Brookings. She studies the politics of redistribution, with a focus on attitudes about taxation.

She is the author of Read My Lips: Why Americans Are Proud to Pay Taxes. Bringing together national survey data with in-depth interviews, Read My Lips presents a surprising picture of tax attitudes in the United States. Americans view taxpaying as a civic responsibility and moral obligation. But they worry that others are shirking their duties, in part because the experience of taxpaying misleads Americans about who pays taxes and how much. Upending the idea of Americans as knee-jerk opponents of government, Read My Lips examines American taxpaying as an act of political faith.

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 academic research on the interplay between policy and politics includes studies of the electoral effects of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the political impact of anti-union legislation, and the factors predicting protests against police brutality. She has also written about public opinion research methodology, including a re-examination of supposed public misperceptions of the costs of government waste and foreign aid, and an analysis of ethical considerations associated with crowdsourcing research.

She has written about tax opinion and tax politics for the Washington Post’s Monkey Cage; about the Tea Party, anti-union legislation and taxpayer citizenship for the New York Times; and about democracy and organizing for Teen Vogue. She has discussed her research on NPR’s “Marketplace,” CSPAN’s “Washington Journal,” CNN's "Fareed Zakaria GPS," and MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show.”

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.

Vanessa Williamson is a Fellow in Governance Studies at Brookings. She studies the politics of redistribution, with a focus on attitudes about taxation.

She is the author of Read My Lips: Why Americans Are Proud to Pay Taxes. Bringing together national survey data with in-depth interviews, Read My Lips presents a surprising picture of tax attitudes in the United States. Americans view taxpaying as a civic responsibility and moral obligation. But they worry that others are shirking their duties, in part because the experience of taxpaying misleads Americans about who pays taxes and how much. Upending the idea of Americans as knee-jerk opponents of government, Read My Lips examines American taxpaying as an act of political faith.

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 academic research on the interplay between policy and politics includes studies of the electoral effects of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the political impact of anti-union legislation, and the factors predicting protests against police brutality. She has also written about public opinion research methodology, including a re-examination of supposed public misperceptions of the costs of government waste and foreign aid, and an analysis of ethical considerations associated with crowdsourcing research.

She has written about tax opinion and tax politics for the Washington Post’s Monkey Cage; about the Tea Party, anti-union legislation and taxpayer citizenship for the New York Times; and about democracy and organizing for Teen Vogue. She has discussed her research on NPR’s “Marketplace,” CSPAN’s “Washington Journal,” CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS,” and MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show.”

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.

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