As the White House and Congressional Republicans press for sweeping tax reform, Truth Politics and Power Host Neal Conan explores the economic and political history of the federal tax system. From the tariffs and excise taxes that funded government in the 18th and 19th century to the 16th amendment and a permanent income tax to “Taxes to beat the Axis” in WWII which created the federal tax system as we know it. How both political parties became allergic to tax increases and the hidden tax benefits of the welfare state that subsidize the middle class.
Joseph J. Thorndike
Molly Michelmore is Associate Professor of History and Department Head at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, VA, and the author of Tax and Spend: The Welfare State, Tax Politics and the Limits of American Liberalism.
Joseph J. Thorndike is director of the Tax History Project at Tax Analysts and the author ofTheir Fair Share: Taxing the Rich in the Age of FDR.
Taxes dominate contemporary American politics. Yet while many rail against big government, few Americans are prepared to give up the benefits they receive from the state. In Tax and Spend, historian Molly C. Michelmore examines an unexpected source of this contradiction and shows why many Americans have come to hate government but continue to demand the security it provides.
Joseph J. Thorndike’s history of the U.S. federal tax system from the 1920s until the end of World War II might feel familiar: the president with a progressive reputation who proves more pragmatic than his ardent supporters hoped, the legislators who serve the media apoplectic rhetoric, the magnates who pay no income tax and defend themselves with the perfectly true argument that doing so is 100 percent legal, and the public interested seeing everyone pay their fair share. Thorndike mines governmental and popular media archives to explore both the scholarship of taxes and the way we feel about paying them.