Northwestern University


CHSS Manuscript Workshop: Monica Prasad, "Starving the Beast: A History of the 1981 Ronald Reagan Tax Cut"

When: Thursday, February 8, 2018
All day  

Where: 1902 Sheridan Road, Buffett Institute Conference Room, Evanston, IL 60208 map it

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Contact: Monica Prasad  

Group: Comparative-Historical Social Science Working Group (Buffett Institute)

Category: Lectures & Meetings


This manuscript workshop brings together sociologists, political scientists, and historians for a day-long discussion of the manuscript of Monica Prasad’s book Starving the Beast: A History of the 1981 Ronald Reagan Tax Cut. The book examines how tax cuts became the central element of the Republican domestic agenda through a close study of the Economic Tax Recovery Act of 1981, the “Laffer Curve” tax cut.

Drawing on newly released archival materials, Prasad argues that, contrary to popular perception, the tax cuts did not result from business group pressure, small government ideology, or racial backlash. Rather, the unusual structure of the American tax system in comparative perspective interacted with inflation to make tax cuts a potent political issue. Instead of blaming business, ideology, or racial conflict, the U.S. should learn from Europe, where strong and extensive welfare states are embedded in political economies that are quite favorable to business.

The book is being revised for review at Russell Sage Foundation Press.

Three scholars who are experts on tax policy and contemporary neoliberalism have agreed to take part in the event: Isaac Martin (Sociology, UCSD), Alexander Hertel-Fernandez (Political Science, Columbia), and Molly Michelmore (History, Washington and Lee University). We also plan to invite faculty and students from Northwestern to participate as discussants, and the event will be open to the Northwestern public. We expect interest in the issue from historians and political scientists as well as sociologists.

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