tv Vanessa Williamson Discusses Read My Lips CSPAN June 3, 2017 10:32am-12:04pm EDT
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i'm happy to be here because it's a great book and vanes says an awesome person. vanessa joined us here at the brookings institution and then promptly produced this great book. having been here for a short time. i think i'll go through the formal intro of vanes sample -- vanessa. she has written two books, their, the fit called "the pea party and the remaking of american conservatism." she is a woman of very strong congress visitations but in her -- convictions but in her tea party book she showed an enormous capacity for a sympathetic understanding of people she profoundly disagrees
with and whether we need that gift of empathy at this moment in our politics. so just to tell you how we'll do this. vanessa while talk about this great book and her findings and then i'll introduce an all-star group of respondents who will respond to vanessa and i'm going to start a discussion among all three and then we'll bring you all into the conversation. vanessa is a fellow in the government studies program at brooksings, studies the redistribution using taxation, she her book was named one of the ten best political books of the year by the new yorker, also examines the political origin of the tax credit, eelectoral
effect of the american recovery and reinvest act. she has testified before congress,, and also has appeared in teen vogue and her home town newspaper, the sacramento bee as well as the atlanta journal constitution. she has been cite all over the place by economistses, washington post and npr and received her ph.d in government and social policy from harvard university. has a masters degree from nyu's institute of french studies so will do a side lecture on the wine people can consume while paying their taxes, and she has a ba in french language and literature from nyu. i love having you as a colleague, vanessa, and congratulations on the book.
[applause] >> my goal is to convince that the meshes see tax paying as something to be round -- proud of. i've been studying this for years and in america to pay taxes is something almost universally understood as a civic duty and moral obligation. recognize in this political moment i have myself a difficult task in convincing you of this. so last fall, for instance, we elected a president who describes tax avoidance as the smart choice. the next few week's we'll see major tax reform policies that will likely involve very large tax breaks, probably heavily aimed at the weltiest among -- wealthiest among us and our cities and studies have the
struggled with major budget shortfalls. how can it be that americans are proud to pay taxes? aren't we in fact a nation of nordquists. happy to -- i don't want to distort or discount the views of conservative americans. in fact, as aj said, my last book was a study of the tea party and was at a tea party rally that the question that i tried to answer in this book first occurred to me. it was at a tea party rally i noticed awe common it was for tea party activists to describe themselves as taxpayer. pay my taxes. as a taxpayer, i -- and the end of that sentence was almost never about taxes. it was almost always about their right to be heard, their right to participate in the american politics. in america, even for very
conservative americans, being a taxpayer, using taxpayer, is a shorthand for being an upstanding, contributing citizen, who has earned a police in the country and has earned representation by their government. the tea party is on the american right but in seeing tax payment as a commitment to community and country they're part of a very long american tradition, americans use status as taxpayers to define community and to demonstrate worthiness of citizen. the rev luigser in thomas payne says all accumulation of personal property beyond what a map's hands produced is derived to them by living in society and owes on every process of justice gratitude of civilization, back to the society from wence it came. we are in a society indebted to one another and the fact we pay those debts when we pay our taxes is the reason we have the
right to be represented by our government. the national women's rights convention in 1866 asked, whim now hold the vast amount of property in the country and pay the full proportion of taxes. on what principle, then do you deny her representation? that link is not something of the revolutionary war of suffragette movement. it continues in our politics today. in 1959, african-american activists in the beaches of miami which was an extremely -- they went to the beaches with the whites only signs and brought with them their property tax receipts. showed they paid to maintain the beaches and the beaches lodged to them like everybody else. it showed they had paid their share, they had the receipts to prove it. so the city -- tax paying has
played an important part in the rhetoric of reforms and also how average americans think about tax paying. for 40 years surveys asked whether americans see tax paying as a responsibility and for decades americans have health a pretty constant view of that. the question is if american's civic duty to pay their fair share of taxes. five percent of the public disagrees. i should put that in context. six persons of merges think the moon landing was faked. so when five percent of americans believe something that's about as close to consensus as you'll get. these are views that americans hold strongly. in interviews with my survey respondents i was surprised again and again by how often i asked what was frankly a boring question about taxes and i would get these old answers' patriotism and the duties of a system. a marine from california, when if say the word tacks what does
that make you think about? he said the cost of being an american. he was a marine. he pad paid in a much more concrete way. another person i spoke to, a democrat from florida, i have been interviewingous because i want to write a book but if it what your book what we the most important chapter be. she said i want to remind everybody that no man i island. we're all in this together. and i spoke to a republican in ohio, very conservative. very angry got a lot of what government does. asked him how do you feel when you're filling outer texas forms? he said i feel i'm doing my part. and what is interesting is it's not just that americans have these nice words to say. they actually put their money their mouth is. so americans as a rule are remarkably committed taxpayers
by international standards. americans largely pay their taxes honestly and on time and at rates higher than can be explained by enforcement and -- it's called tokes morale, the social norm we share that if a e. is is chipping in i should do my part, too. when it comes to putting their money on the table americans are good at being taxpayers. so, americans see tax-paying as a surfing responsibility. send their checks to uncle sam. here's another surprising truth. they vote for tax increase is. half of states have a mechanism where voters vote directly on legislation. i'm from california and it happens far too commonly. in the states over the last 15 years it's pretty common to put a tax increase on the ballot and a. as not those tax increases pass.
it's not just one kind of tax. thought maybe this is just cigarette taxes or something. there's raising sales taxes, taxes that fall on the wealthy and corporations. if americans see tax-paying as a civic responsibility and voting for tax increases why is taxation sump a political controversy in this country? in short the answer is that being proud is not the same as being happy. but what americans are jut set about is actually worth thinking about. you'll be surprised. if you ask americans what bothers them most about taxes, only seven percent say the amount they pay. 14% say they're not bothered by taxes. i'm not one of those people. at minimum we can agree that the amount you pay is not a primary motivator. by contrast, here to/fifths of americans say the wealthy or
corporations not paying they're share is their number one concern about taxes. another four percent of people say they're actually most corned that poor people aren't paying their share. this makes sense because if we see tax paying as a civic duty we all share, and something that is so important to who we are and such an important aspect of being a citizen, being a contributing person in our country, of course we'ring only when the think one else is shirking. of course it is not easy to know how much other people are paying in taxes. for instance, it's pretty common for people to have huge misper sing about the tax code and what effects it has. you may remember a statistic that made the rounds a few years ago about the 47%? so this was a statistic that suggested that accurately if -- that 40% of households who file a meter income tax return got
about what they paid or paid zero. so that was remembered and repeated was that half of americans don't pay taxes. now to believe that you have to forget about things we now like the existence of the sales texas or property tax or payroll taxes that pay for social security and medicare, and yet this false notion made the rounds and had a pretty big impact and it's an example of how peek misunderstood how tax responsibilities are -- people feel that immigrants north paying their fair share of taxes and unfortunately attitudes who counts in this country is a taxpayer, replicate long-standing stereotypes about who works hard and as we all remember from things like the welfare queen. these stereo types are deeply racialized. and unfortunately that travel us through directly to today and how people think about who really pays taxes. now, the second part of my book talks about the limits of our community, right?
people are proud to pay taxes to support their community but they don't always see everyone in america as part of that community. so i talk about that. i also talk about spiff misper sing people hold about the amount of taxes pay the poor boar or what policies might raise taxes on the rich and where all the tax "is going and i'd be happy to talk about those thingness the discussion. it's an uncomfortable truth that smart, educated and politically engaged people have misinformation about policy and that misinformation means it's hard to take their values and connect them with the right policies that would actually implement the things they want to see in our politics. i want to leave you with a different question. if i have convinced you that americans are not knee-jerk opponents of taxation and that americans see tax-paying as a civic responsibility, as patriotic and something we must to do sport one another, i would
like you to think about why it device not see those attitudes rep mix indicated here in our government in washington. thank you. [applause] >> i'd like to ask our panelists to join me. >> while everybody else is being mic'd up i want to say. wasn't that that most uplifting talk you have heard at a think tank in a very long time?
i want to just read the first paragraph of vanessa's book. it gives you the -- it's only 182 well-written pages plus some excellent append sees but the first paragraph: when i tell people i study americans' opinions about taxation, their rakeses are predictable, first, pained look, usually passes across the face of -- regrets asking me by my presumably dreary work. she says americans hate taxes or angry or short sighted or prefer to be self-sufficient and intrinsically antigovernment. americans just do not want to pay government's bills. as we security heard that's not trial. -- just heard that's not true. i want to hear from a dear colleague, tom mann who wanted
to form an organization called willing taxpayers of america. and when he heard about vanessa's event today he sent us a notice from california to say how grateful he was we were having this meeting here today. so, i'm going introduce heather and frank and then i'm going to ask a broad question to up a each of them to give them a chance to respond to vanessa and her book. heather is he executive director and chief economist at the washington center for equitable growth. she focuses con economic inequality, social policy and family economic well-being help latest book i "finding time: the economics of work/life conflict" by harvard university press. so writes for "the new york times," the atlantic, democracy, appeared on all sorts of networks, fox isn't on here for some reason -- msnbc, cnbc, pbs,
she previously served as chief economist for hillary clinton's transition team as well as at the center for american progress, the joint economic committee for the u.s. congress, the center for economic and policy research and the economic policy institute. frank is the executive director of americans for tax fairness and helped found the organization in 2012. he was previously campaign manage for the strength and social security campaign, coalition of 320 organizations. prior to that he managed a healthcare campaign for the communications workers union of america in support of the affordable care act. he was also issues campaign director of the labor group and public citizens congress watch. also been senior policy adviser to the house committee on government operations and jesse jackson's 1988 campaign.
ow wrote a book "keep hope alive" about that campaign. so let me start by asking a broad question. vanessa, you care about equity. tell us what you learned from the become as to what this tells us about inequality and it relationship with taxation, and i'll ask frank broad he the same question. frank said there was an important lesson he learned from vanessa and i can't wait for him to tell us what it is. you can start, heather. >> thank you, and thank you for writing such a great book, vanessa. it was a real joy to read. i'm just going to take a moment to do one small brag on her which is that the washington -- a grant-giving institution and in our first round of grant-making to young scholars vanessa was our first cohort so could not be more excited we were able to help support this research. it's so important for the questions around equitable growth. so, a couple thing that for me
were really striking in the book vis-a-vis equity. the first one -- you talked about it in your remarks -- that this idea that people feel that paying taxes is a civic duty, they think the tax sim should be fair and that means it can -- in qualitative work the vows of dust people but the sense at taxes should be progressive, that what makes the most sense in terms of fair. and yet i think that it's what -- the next step which i think is hard for folks to really connect the dots between is how the fairness of the tax system isn't just about the fairness of whether or not you're paying your fair share versus me but what we're paying for and the broader implications for economic growth and stability. and so one place to take these ideas you work on in your book is how to make the link for
people and policymakers. you ended your remarks with this idea that misinformation means it's hard to connect value to policy. it's also difficult when you have misinformation to connect policy back to values. people don't understand that the way our tax system is strictured actually enhances inequity and does to the promote growth in the way wear often told. that actually can have an effect on how people feel about whether or not the tax system is fair. let me give you an example. something we work with a lot -- and with his co-authors, they have done some research looking at whether or not there's room to increase taxes at the top of the income distribution, where of course over time -- a little side par we have seen the marginal tax rate at the very top of the income discrimination
centralling from 90% in 1950s to 70% in the 1960s to less than 40% or lower, 39.6% today at the very, very top you have seen these rates falling for families at the top. yet there's economic evidence that there's a lot of room to actually increase ways at the top in way that promote fairness and promote economic growth. we have been told the stories which has been pushed by economists that we need to teen taxes low at the top because that will affect the working centers of the very, very wealthy and that increases investment in labor supply and that's what makes the economy grow. the basic argument we have about in washington. i know we'll hear a lot about this over the next few months. yet at the same time, the tax rate at the top, there oar factors that affect whether or not people work. it's not just the labor supply question. it's also the question of whether or not you are using
labor income versus transferring income into other kinds like capital income or business income, and whether or not those tax rates actually change behavior, and what this research shows is that the most important factor in having lower tax rates at the top is it changes the incentive to have higher salaries. it creates the conditions for rent-seeking for those at the top because it creates a greater incentive to -- for those corporate boards when they get together to give their -- the ceo at this company and the one at this company and give each other very, very high salary because they get to keep more, which is not actually leading to the productivity enhancing thing wes want to see. now, that's a complicated little story there, how to connect the dots between that sense of fairness in terms of that we want a tax system -- i take from your book that people want a tax
system that is not only fair but doing right by the community. the way we have been talking about taxes, especially at the top, it is sometimes about fairness and also got growth and how do we sort of work to change not people's mind? this is a question for you that came out of my reading of the book. >> thank you. i'm so glad you focused on that. i'm tired of the argument we hear in washington we need to give rich people more money so they'll work honoredder and poor people less money so they'll work harder. i don't know where the logic is. tell us abouture big lesson here and then ask a couple questions of vanessa. clung i see a dear friend who is political consultant in the audience. i'm going to ask about a certain skepticism i have a lunch exists the world of political consultants about your thesis. go ahead. >> so, for the last five years, tax fairness, when we create to
determine our name and actually or pollsters here to determine the name of our organization, we actually dade whole bunch of focus groups, not just to determine the name but as we started out, we did six focus groups and a big poll and what came through loud and clear was what the public felt was the tax system was grossly unfair and needed fixing. we need that then prior back to elizabeth warren running for president that everybody felt the system was rigged. >> we're in an election cycle too early. >> she didn't run for president. a freudian slip. >> that was when she ran for senate. we looked at a video of her speech. the room was packed and she talk about the rigged system and way took her speech and put it in front of focus groups and tested out, and so this feeling about
the unfairness of the system pervade his culture. and it's on both sites. why bernie sanders does well and a donald trump does well. a populism. that is out there, and that from our point of view, from a tax point of view, is very profound and helpful. i think the thing that -- the obvious finding was a little bit shocking to me only bus i -- the only time i think about the civic duty part of this is from when tax day comps around -- this year part of the tax march going on, on april 15th, and actually writing principles for the tax march and i wrote a principle for what is tax day? and i got into this whole frame of mind around civic duty and the time of year and it's to common good, and -- but it's a language i hadn't been using.
we have not used it in our political advocacy work, lobbying work, public education work, and and the reason it was important to hear this for me was because it is a place of common ground, i think, between people of different ideologies. so much of the tax debates about the role of government. knows from do you believe in government or believe much more in the private sector? and what is your relationship to the government? what do you think the government ought to be doing for you, for our communities, on your behalf or whatever. and -- but the light bulb thought to me, if way do have the hat kind of common ground, it says a lot about how far we have gotten away from that place and how this probably -- this country used to be united around that common ground, whether you were democrat or republican, and
what happened is fracturely one side has what i call the tyranny of theology on taxes and on government, and we can't get through that to get to that place of common ground that you found is where the public is. and so i think it's partly our education program, our work needs to remind people that we are in this together, that taxes are something that we are actually proud to do because of what it means for us and we have gotten very far away from that. we need do more of that. >> thank you. thank you for writing this book which is us one year i discovered -- my column was falling on april 15th and i couldn't resist writing a column under the headline "in praise of the irs." if you support the men and women in uniform you have to support
the men and women of the irs. i still get stopped by people from the irs on the street. in one ever wrote that column before. >> i remember that column. >> two questions. question one is, which we talked about before we came in, which is you said about half at the time tax increases win and half the time the lose. under what circumstance dozen they win and under what circumstances do they lose? or is it random. the other -- this is a political consultant question. you're not old enough to remember but i am that walter mondale promised to raise taxes in 1984. most democrats saw -- democrats -- saw this at the time as a big mistake, ronald reagan certainly went after him on that. and i know a very few political consultants who suggest to their candidates they go out and tell
voters, i'm going raise your taxes. wrote -- waste what's wrong with that analysis? >> such an important question. on the question of when people vote for tax increases -- this is ongoing work and it's hard to -- there's a wave election going one way or another so it's hard to unpack this. one thing that comes through clearly is that tax increase does better when you make it clear where the money is going. that seems very straightforward. who would want to pay excise for something that was unclear. i want to pay more to get nothing extra. so it's the case -- reasonable that voters would prefer to understand where the modify that is being raised is going, and they tend to do very well when they -- tax increased do well when they're funding things that people like. the things most popular in american in government are local
services, schools and roads and bridges, and let's remember when -- sanitation and sewers and public safety. these are all issues that people think taxes should pay for and feel passtive about and willing to pay more to improve the services. that's the takeaway in terms of when the ballot measures do well. make sure the voters know what they're getting in return. the second part is related to the first. i told you about how tax measures have been doing the last 15 years. as often as not they pass 50,% of the time they pass. that's a striking change from the era of people like mon day. you look over the last 40 years there's been a very steady increase. in the late 70s to early 80s one in five measures to increase taxes, and it's not that they're vastly more offer these measures now. there's not. what is changed this their success rates.
so, partly people are betting at explaining what tax increase that while doment probably doing a better job explaining what they money will pay for. in a way we're trapped by a political moment that happened, well, frankly issue right around the time i was born, which is the tax revolt. we remember this era in california -- having green up in california, proposition 13, that capped property taxes in the state is a very salient political enemy by because it continues to limit what california can spend today and has caused problems for the schools. but because it's this very salient political memory people forget it's possible, given the fact we have again from one in five to one in two of these measures passing -- forgotten that might be the case we need to reexamine tax attitudes and no used the advent of the reagan revolution as our pin point for
where americans are today. >> one -- i did empirical research in 2014, the 2014 elections on this sort of related, in mid-term elections we documented as much as we could every ad that was run in the congressional races, and we contracted witha service to get the information. we found was shocking. twice as men ads were run by democrats against republicans as republicans ran. usually think about who runs tax ads. it's publicans bashing democrat or being big tax and spenders. that race it was the democrats and they were using the tax tissue their advantage, but a it represented where the public is on the rigged system and fairness and the offshoring issue. the public feels verb strongly, a sense that corporations are
leaving america or shipping jobs and profits offsnore order to take advantage of loopholes in the tax system. they feel very deeply about that. that's what the content of the ads. the first time i saw where democrats were running really -- now, obama did it as well in 2012 against romney. a tee thing in miss campaign was taxing the rich. only the top two percent. i think we have to -- i always criticize -- to me me democrats have their hands tied behind their back. this republicans say a foundational in terms of their attitudes about taxes and democrats are half in and half out. not full-throated about it. the comfortable with taxing the wealthy, ambivalent about taxing corporations for lots of reasons. but in terms of both parties in
this game at the same level of passion about this thing. think we can't quite akeefe the policy changes we want to achieve. >> before you come in let me note that -- i can't resist asking. democrats didn't do very well in 2014 elections. >> that's true. i don't believe there's a link. >> i thought you would say that but wanted to point out the result. >> i would add that i think that the debate is made even more complicated because middle class familiar lid have not had a raise you see a growing disconnect between productivity and wages and family incomes. we very quickly -- we saw this necessary early 2000s. i have a lot -- what i'm watching for this spring and summer is how much there will be this sheen of a small tax cut for the middle class who is
struggling on top of a very, very, very -- add eight more veries -- like large tax cut for those at the top and it's hard to not acknowledge the very real struggles the middle class is having that we walk into that conversation. it's hard for those who say we want to have ha a more progressive tax system and make the argue. with en'we the other side thathead sweetener based on real struggling of families. >> discuss the tax cut issue? >> what i wanted to ask is in each of your build on what heather just said. explore that some what do we learn from vanessa's book. so you can sit there and talk in a third person. what do we learn from vanessa's book for this coming fight and then i want to come back to vanessa on something. and talk about the middle class tax cuts.
>> we're spending a lot of time talking to folks in our legislative advocacy work about middle class tax cuts and whether it should be a big feature here. obviously republicans will run and say their tax bill is a big middle class tax cut bill. they'll do that desspace shuttle the fact that half trump's plan gives $6 trillion in tax breaks, half of those tax break go to the top one percent. paul ryan's tax plan, believe it or not, by the ten -- i know you want to believe it but by the tenth year, 99-point of% of -- 6% of the tax break goes to the top one percent. 100%, all the tax breaks good to the richest one percent of americans. and the democrats want to be for something in this debate so the think, we'll be for middle class
tax cuts, and that's two challenges with that. and goes to heather's point which is people health felt like they have not had a raise. if you are making $50,000 a year and it's trump's plan you'll get an extra dollar a day. an extra buck a day. a millionaire gets a million dollars extra a year, somebody who is making 50,000 bucks gets an extra dollar a day under trump's plan. it's not -- what can you buy for a bach day. >> not even a coup of coffee. >> a cup of coffee. secondly, we have a revenue gap in this country that it quite profound. we can talk economics for a minute. think got flat line, revenue as a% of the gross dome product is 18%. been 18% for the last decade and going to be 18% for the next decade. spending is at 21.5%, 3.5
percentage points gives. going up to 23.5%. mostly baby-boom generation ration tireees. health care, five percentage point gap. now, you can go to the republicans which companies cut, cut, and not have any economic security, retirement security, or you can do what my organization advocates which is to raise revenue to close at least significantly close that gap. that is where we need to go. if you are out there advocating for middle class tax cutted that gap will grow because it will be a bidding game between the parties. >> i thick what vanessa's book teaches us is -- i would like to hear your views on this as well -- i think what your book teaches us is there's room to make the arguments that it don't think we have tried hard enough to make the argument we don't need a tax cut. we need raise rev enough and place -- revenue and figure out
oh to -- that's it's not tax breaks to those at the top. we need make investments in united states and there's a few compelling thing. one is we know that investments in infrastructure are -- have been and continue to be highly popular. people get it. they understand when they're bridges fall down you need money to fix them and they don't want to have trains that don't work or crash because the rails aren't kept up. so, i think that's one. but a second issue we don't talk about enough is that when we talk about when the republicans talk about wanting to cut back benefits for social security beneficiaries or upping the age for getting medicare or cutting families off medicaid, that those are expensive that are going to be born by someone and there's two ways to do that. one is to have it socialized over our lifetimes and over all of the american people so that it's being paid for out of this
fund through social security or other programs, or it's going to fall directly on family which is going to have this very negative impact on families' able to be full participanted in the labor force. if you have to have acknowledge aging loved one moved into your home or spend more time carrying for them. this is affecting the labor force participation. rate's american workers in the 50s and ofs at the time when the need to be working and saving for retirement. but it drags down family income, makes the budget even tighter. all of that will drag down economic growth. so what we're not doing is making the kinds of investments making us a vibrant 21-inch century economy, not making those investments in infrastructure and research and all these things and what i take from your book is we need be doing more to make those tradeoffs really concrete and less of the -- i moon i'm an economist who is totally guilty of this -- less of the abstract,
raise tax us because it's progressive and more concrete. why we need to have fair rules of the game because if we are using our tax dollars to make capitalism work better the people benefit most should actually be putting a lot of skin in the game because they benefit the most. like with the middle class tax cuts the answer dish think we need to change that conversation because no way to say that somebody who is struggle doing we don't care about you but i think that focusing on how to create good jobs and this is part of that puzzle. >> i want -- i knew heather was extraordinary. their first guilty economist i've ever met and that is a wonderful thing. can i bring vanessa back in. one is to respond for what has been said so far. the other is i think for a lot of us, certainly for me, everything you say about the need to contribute to common life that we are all in this
together, the tom payne idea that our individual success owes a lot to this society in which e live and work and are raised. that's beautiful language and people resonate to. when it comes to taxes, the word that gets used is by government." and when you look at -- there are lot of surveys that show declining faith in government, how government works. some of that is a result, you can argue, of conservative propaganda, some of it is a sense that things are not working well for a lot of of people and government is the natural force to be blamed. i think that does create a challenge for this argument, even though clearly your own research says people do still think of taxes as paying for our common life. so, sort of respond what has been said and if you can sort of take that one on, too.
>> the think they're closely related questions. argument people make is that we should be able to recognize that a tax cut results in shortage of services. that's a connection that should be clear. we didn't have the dollars knee teed fill the pot kohl the dollars went some where, through a tax expenditure or didn't raise rates, so want to make the case that our schools schools as and hospitals and parks could be better if we put in the cash. but the challenge, i think in making that case is that people have a very deep concern about government waste and i want to talk about what people mean by government waste. so, it's actually commonly used statistic that suggest americans don't understand anything about government government. if you ask americans what percentage of tax dollar is waisted the answer 50eus%. half of all federal tax dollars are wasted. experts tellout that waste,
fraud and bus is seven percent, waste itself two percent. what a terrible disconnect between what experts enough and what average people believe. that's how we normally talk about. but you hear a very different store when you ask them what it means. it taps into a general concern. people talk about entire programs they don't like. so if you're on theft that's the military. you're on the right that's entitilements. and that is a reasonable way to talk about waste. not inefficient simple. if you doing some efficiently something that was a bad idea it's wasteful. the other thing people talk about when you ask them what they meant by government waste they talk about government operating on behalf of the very wealthy, on behalf of corporations and that congressman living lives completely unlike average americans with fancy offices and jetting off to go placed. they don't live like me, have my
halve inn own lack of health insurance. that's a common thing for people to say when you ask about government wastes. a problem we phasis people don't trust the system by which we allocate the doors that the person people -- the dollars that the american people are giving. when they have profound doubts about the outcome but the process itself, the process expected from the citizens that creates a big challenge in convincing people there's a tradeoff and a tax cut. you think half of the money is getting waste evidence anyway. how much does one little tax cut matter. and having faith that contributing dollars and voting are going to get you the government that you choo shoo -- you should have as an american citizen, undercuts the argue. >> a very fundamental foundational problem we have, i'm surely the campaign finance reform and money in politics, all that sort of stuff.
the little nuggets in the book is that people -- i spout this having seen polling on it -- is that a lot of people are very supportive of a flat tax in public opinion polls. they're the same folks who are very an mated by the tax fairness issue and they don't understand -- what the think is the loopholes are so bad the corporations and the rich are doing it, they're not -- if we could get a minimum tax they have to pay, a flat tax, they don't know what the number is -- then they'd be better off and society would be letter off. the level of cynicism is profound. we know that. this election displayed that greatly. and i think until we -- how we get over the hump is the flip side of the role of government. we have one party that tearing government down a lot, all the time, and so that's bringing
down holiday people feel about government. so much of this -- i think the latent feelings about the -- the disposition of the public is there, but it's for the lack of trust and -- is not able to be bridged. just think about it. if both parties were saying, we ought to rates the gas tax in order to rebuild roads and bridges and railway systems, both parties were saying that, i think that the american public would say, yeah, right on, i'll pay an extra five or tenants in gift tacks. that not the dynamic we're in. >> can i follow up? >> sure. >> two things. first of all, specific question of the gas tax, one problem taxing visibility, the complexity of the gas tax. it is folded in with the price
and varies so much by state. makes it very hard for people make a reasonable calculation about whether the gun -- the gas tax is high or low. >> bad example. >> i think it's exactly a good example for that reason. alongside that this question of how do you make people believe that their democracy can function in which there are obvious ways the democracy is not functioning, it's a great challenge right now. >> one thing you point out, one of my favorite charts in the book is -- it's in the preface, on page 14, xiv, where you though the success self-tax increase in state ballot measures toeing over time and goes up so state ballot measures have been more likely to pass over timement one of the questions -- if you don't mind, asking vanessa a question. one thing i think this conversation gets at for me is
it seemed like from -- it seemed to me from reading the become that people value things they can feel and tough and that would push us to -- having more conversations at the state and local level which is not what we talk about here in washington, dc. seems like people are raising taxes -- they're in favor of these ballot initiatives, yet having this conversation in washington. what's your -- based on all the folks you talked to, is that a good reading of your book? what comments do you have on that. >> i think that's exactly right. i think first of all, people views of their states like the local succeed board. their local school board is great and everybody else is failing. >> we're tribal. >> that -- on the one hand definitely true you think the state and local level, of course people can say they have bigger say. they're all a bigger say.
been so that's absolutely the case. at the same time you face the challenge that we are friable we have sorted ourselves politically and geographically so that you hit up against the problem of, you build your little enclave where i look out for me and mine and that is the general challenge i alluded to at the end of my talk. >> that's an old-fashioned style of talking about the political life and it is interesting to me in any interviews is that everyone had to come if their own language. if you ask people about a subject they have a talking point or two ready that they've heard. you hear that it don't want taxes to punish work. so many people. and it clearly captured an important sentiment. they all had the same words. now, just as many people talked to me about the fact -- in fact
more people at the end of the day, almost everyone talked to me about the idea of community and taxes are more than i show, i'm responsible to my community. but all had different televize talk about it. some people talked about their neighbors or this no man is an island, whatever metaphor they could pull together to describe what i call fellowship, that sense we're in it together. because it's not common in our politic news to give people the language that can -- they can have a shorthand, the fact that the sentiments is not there but they don't have a shared language to express the feeling and that's an important part of the role of politics, to give them a language to express those feelings. >> you're saying that sparking so -- i'm going for questions. we have mics going around the room. i want to invite our friend to ask a question, too. you talked about civic duty and
the like, and what it made me think of is ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country. john f. kennedy said that in 1961. that was the high point of the greatest generation. it followed a period when americans actually believed that government had helped end the depression and had won world war ii and there was a kind of public confidence in and collective endeavor that we have been losing, starting around 1968 or '70. but i think we can see -- i guess part of it is how in the world do we get that back in we don't want to have a world war to do it. maybe just a very unusual time but there really was i think a civic sense where -- people felt a palpable stake in common endeavor. they thought it was in their interests. not just an altruistic thing.
i want to toss that to the panel and then open to questions. >> i'll be brief. i think that one challenge is that 1968 early '7 sod was the low point of inequality in the united states and part of the -- many reason why people lost that faith and trust in government and there's a lot of them, one of them was the nixon era and what happened in vietnam but also about large swaths of 0 our sowf site which had been excluded from economic growth, wanting in, right? racial justice movement. the feminist movement. and now we're sort of with this era where we have inequality higher than it's ever been in the out or just has ahigh as before the great depression in the 1920s so this mass if pulling award you see people congealing around the fact that is a problem. you saw that on all sided of the political spectrum in this election, that in many of the
trump voters frustrated that somebody is -- america is growing but a they're not seeing the gains of growth. now you have the flip side of that coming tote, the frustration that something is get something and people aren't. that is our challenge today. it's to figure out how to take the negative experience of inequality and make that into something we have a common purpose around. >> i think our hope lies with what is called the rising american electorate, which is essentially the obama coalition, millenials, single women, people of color, very diverse population, young folks, people who i think have different attitude about government than the current dominant age cohort that is out there. as we know or -- the rising
american electorate wilt be the biggest voting block. came close this last cycle. they have a much greater comfort level with government. they are much more communally oriented, much more engaged through the wired world, guess you say. they are comfortable -- more comfort able with government spending itch think they're feeling a heck of a lot less secure economically than previous generations. a lot are still living with their parents. so that's kind of my hope, and i don't know if vanessa -- in the quantitative work you have done, if you have teased that out or not. >> i think this is a really critical question. i think that -- i'm hesitant to
feel confident about demographic destiny just because i know that america's political institutions have been structured history include and to this day to limit the power of majority. that is -- fundamentally part of the polling. the constitution continues -- most obviously the last election but in general it's -- i would be hesitant to put my confidence in simply having the most potential voters because it's quite clear that in a number of states they're willing to change who votes before they're willing to let the majority rule. but a alongside that, on the broader question how to create this sense of shared fate, right? that is maybe what that generation had. at the end of the day we had to defeat the nazis. something we all had to do together and had been through
this contraction of our economy. you couldn't buy your way interest a life that had nothing to do with other americans. i have my own take on this and i think that there is something like a world war that we face, and that's climate change, and i know that sounds maybe a little bit like, well, never going to convince conservatives that climate change is here but what climate change is doing is causing droughts in rural america and every farmer notices that. right? climate change is flooding our rivers. it's flooding our coasts, it's a danger to cities and rural people, danger to people at every economic level and undoubtedly mostly to the poor, but hurricane sandy let us all know, right, that new york is one city. so, i think that looking forward, what i would say is that if we can identify that as the shared risk it truly is.
like rural ohio, suburban kansas city, etc. this november where 11 of those places elected to tax themselves to pay for children's services. yea. people literally coming out of the polls saying, yes, i voted for trump, and i voted for the children's services fund, so that's very promising to me. the other thing is that there are eight children's services councils in florida. many of them had to go back for reauthorization. first time around some 10, 15 years ago they got, you know, right around half the vote and passed. this time they've got these accountability structures in place. people trust them, like you talked about, and they're winning between 76-82%. so, and that's property taxing florida voters, right? [laughter] so, question: children are very popular, do you talk about children in your book? and any advice more me as i kick off this -- for me as i kick off
this new project? >> well, thank you for a great question. i should have talked more about that, actually. it is one of those things that really does cross all kinds of divides. the frequency with which people say "our children," all our children, and that, i think, is a really amazing commitment. you see that in commitment of people without children in public education. after all, we need to look after our children. yeah, it is a real point of commonality. >> you have, like, defeated bond issues in places where you have evasive, essentially, older populations whose kids are not in school anymore? >> yeah. >> so, i mean, it works both ways. correct, it doesn't always -- >> oh, no. as i said, my positive statistics is a 50/50 shot, right? >> right. [inaudible conversations] >> i believe, you know, i love the line original sin is the only empirically verifiable doctrine of the christian church.
[laughter] i think it's always important to talk about human frailty. sir. >> yeah, thank you. >> thank you. rick -- [inaudible] with just economics. i was very interested -- well, i've loved everything that i've heard from all the panels, learned a lot. very interested in the remarks about people's perception of tax fairness relating to, well, what's the relationship between what i pay and what i get. and i wonder if our tax mechanisms don't play into that. and what i mean is that we tend to rely a lot on general taxes, and i think, for example, sales taxes. and the nice thing that politicians love about a sales tax is you can raise it by an infinitesimally small percentage and rake in lots of moolah that i can spend hither and yon, but people have no concept of how that money gets spent.
when it comes to water and sewer, many of us pay a per-gallon fee, and it seems kind of fair the more you drink or flush, the more you pay. and we could pay for water and sewer with a sales tax. but if we did, would people have any incentive to conserve water? when they see a leaky a faucet today, they see their water going down the drain. but if we paid for it with a sales tax, would they go out and buy something they didn't need just to compensate for the water they're wasting? probably not. i wonder if there's a lesson for politicians that if you want the public to understand and support taxes, we have to create some better linkages between what people are spending and getting, and that would mean maybe moving away from general taxes towards maybe things like user fees and value capture where people pay sort of in proportion to what they get. >> that's a good question. let me -- [inaudible] in democracy journal with which i have an association, we had a
very good piece on this whole idea of tax receipts that when people get their refund, they also ought to get an accounting, like a one-page accounting. here, by the way, is what your tax money went to, this is what it's spent on. i'm not sure it would revolutionize everything, but it would be a useful piece of public education so that people get where it's distributed. i'm curious, the answer to your question is an entirely different question, but it's related to the issue of knowledge. >> but i think that there were basically two questions. one is the question of making benefits visible, and that clearly is an important thing for government to do. and there are many ways that could be done. for instance, with a tax receipt, i think at a federal level a tax receipt has really shown tremendous success on social security. some of you may have at some point received a green statement about your social security benefits? i'm amazed how often people remember having received those, but they did that as a randomized trial which is what
made social scientists so happy just to be able to say. [laughter] so that you could actually measure the impact of people finding out a statement of here's how much you paid into social security, here's what your benefits are going to look like, and if you keep paying in like this, this'll happen. not only has it increased people's knowledge, it increased their confidence. there's a lot of misinformation about what's happening with social security. so i think to the extent we can make the benefits of government visible, that's important for two reasons. one, because it would be good for people to know what benefits they're receiving so they can judge those. but also because people aren't just consumers, they're citizens. they need to know what government's doing, and it needs to be obvious to them. and whether we do social policies in the tax code, we often lose that connection, right? so i think that's a crucial issue. the second point you made was about fee for service, basically, a benefits principle, right? and i think that we can disentangle those. there are many places where fee
for service is a good idea, gas taxes operate in that same way. particularly for things we'd like peopled to do less of, right? been people to do less of, right? but at the same time, having every tax dedicated to a particular purpose, sometimes that ends up pretty regressive, right? it falls heavily on lower income people. and secondly, it doesn't create a place for our democracy to make those decisions. and at the end of the day, that's what we would like. we would like to be able to trust our democracy to allocate money from a general pool, right? i would prefer that fundamentally. believing we had to have each and every service paid for separately because we couldn't trust any lawmakers to make those judgments, right? so i think there are two issues going on there, both of which are really important. >> i think there's a list of -- [inaudible] some of the united way and big philanthropy declining as people give more money to very particular things that they want. and my understanding is one of
the net effects of that is less money ends up going across town from richer to poorer parts of town and that you need some general fund that is not user-fee based in order to achieve sort of a level of social decency in the parts of town that don't have a lot of money to spend. it goes with regressiveness, but i think it's a larger part of the story. did you guys want to comment? i want to go to this side of the room, and then i'll get some other voices on this side. >> i just want to comment on the question that you just raised, vanessa, about people knowing the benefits that they're receiving. this is one question that i feel like is, social scientists seem to understand this, but policymakers don't. and i don't know -- or that has been my own personal experience, is that i have found it difficult to explain to folks doing policy why that really matters or have found a lot of,
sort of, pushback on that. so i just wanted to make a little bit of a plea. if anybody in the room or listening or watching on television think there's evidence for that, that's something we should talk about more. because i think too often there's a both, i mean, there's both how do you do something really efficiently which may not gel well with showing people the benefits that they're getting, but there's also sometimes, you know, pressure to do things through employers or to hide them in the tax code which really does obscure that for people. and it leaves you with programs that don't have that constituency. people don't actually understand. so it would be nice if as we were having this tax debate over the next few months there were more voices rising up and having that conversation alongside it about how important it is for people to see where their tax dollars are going. so just a little plug for all of you thinkers and doers out there. >> i think of a really good think tank to work on that. [laughter] >> my quick comment on your question is i think it would, it
would lead to much more balkanization of our kohl picks that we have right now -- politics that we have right now. lastly, the tax system is to help share the wealth. i mean, you know, i'll use the redistribution word. it needs to help redistribute wealth. and if we get into -- [inaudible] the folks who are going to lose are the folks who are most in need. >> unless we do a wealth tax. >> well, okay, yes. to redistribute wealth, okay. >> you could have a user fee on wealth. i'm just saying. [laughter] good idea. >> [inaudible] >> i'm sorry? >> value captures which is a wealth tax on land -- [inaudible] >> thank you. sounds like henry george. please. >> hi. i have a question about the public perception of fairness. when people are talking about fairness, is it a notion the system is good but it's been
hollowed out or that the system itself is not working? in other words, is 39.6% or 35% for corporations, are those fair top marginal rates, but we don't like the ability to hire advisers and lobbyists to lower your effective tax rate? or is there some deeper value that people are responding to that they think, no, 50% is a good rate? and income tax is unfair or something more fundamental. >> that's a great yes. i'm going to -- and there are several parts to it, but i want to talk about it all at once. first of all, as a general rule, 60 or 70% of americans support progressive taxation, and you can ask that question different ways, as percentages or dollars, and you get progressive results either way. you can shift the results particularly because this is a highly contested issue, but overall americans support a progressive tax rate. but there are some serious gaps
in people's policy knowledge. one is you used the phrase marginal tax rate. that is an entirely nebulous idea in the common understanding. that is to say, people do not understand the net tax rate applies to income on the rate you earned below. or that one-time taxes were at 90% at the very top. they think that's 90% on your whole income. that's a common misunderstanding that undercuts support for high tax rates because that's how it's perceived. one thing that would be interesting would be to find a way to explain that quickly. so that's a policy problem in terms of explaining how our income tax system actually works. it is commonly believed that people like a graduated income tax in principle. but they also commonly believe that our current system is undermined by loopholes, right? so that what results from that
is a willingness to trade lower rates for closing the loopholes without a clarity on what most of those plans typically do which is lower revenue, right? so they think you close a few loopholes, and we're going to have all this money, and there's not going to be a problem if we've lowered the rates. obviously, on the corporate side that's closer to accurate than on the individual side. but, yeah, so that's a common sort of misperception. that is part of the support for a flat tax. now, that's not the most popular plan in america, but people like that for several reasons. one, because it sounds like equal commitment from the citizens, and we're talking about tax paying being something that citizens do, so wouldn't it be great if that burden could be shared equally? that's one motivator. they often talk themselves out of a flat tax after a minute or two because they start thinking about how it applied to different people, but that's the emotional impetus of a flat tax. and secondly, a flat tax with no loopholes and those guys who are not paying those fancy rates you were talking about, those guys will end up having to pay and
maybe will actually come out ahead. so i think that's largely how that's understood. i think people have a lot more confidence about sort of broad, symbolic ideas, should pay more than what the number should be. and i think, you know, another example of that is this question of offshoring. as you said, people feel very strongly about money being held overseas. the fact that they're literally hiding the money outside of the country, that makes perfect sense, right? so those are the kinds of policies that stick with people, because they fit with the sort of emotional understanding of it. and i think when you go too far down the road of specific numbers, you have to provide so much information to the person it's almost impossible to be -- you're not getting their opinion in the wild anymore. you're getting their opinion with a certain set of facts which may or may not be the kind of facts they'd encounter in our politics. >> so one question, and a follow-up on yours. i seem to recall, maybe i'm
crazy, but when we got those, it used to be we would get these newsprint tax forms in the mail, like, with all of forms that you would then fill out, right? i don't want get those anymore, but i thought in those they had a pie chart of where our tax dollars went. but also my other comment is if you had this big pamphlet and it had all those tax tables in the back, i think it made it much easier to understand, okay, that's how i learned what marginal tax rates meant. i'm an economist, so i thought the whole thing was somewhat interesting. [laughter] i may be a complete outlier here. but i'm just pointing out in a small way that was a way to educate people that we don't do anymore, so how is it that people are getting that information, and maybe there are other ways that, you know, we could be doing that. >> let me -- how much time do we have next? >> [inaudible] >> ten minutes. let me bring in a couple of people at a time. the gentleman in the back there has been waving his hand, so -- and i know there are a couple of people farther up right here.
let's, let me take care of this side in this round. sir, you start. and then i'll bring the mic up here. yeah, there we go. >> i'll be quick. how do people feel about using the tax code to sort of behavioral engineer, encouraging certain behaviors, discourages others? >> great question. please. >> yeah. i'm larry, i'm a admitting disappointed we don't -- disappointed we don't have grover norquist on the stage in a bathtub. >> funny you ask, because be i am trying to set up an event with grover. i want grover and vanessa on the same -- [laughter] >> make sure you bring the bathtub too, right? >> yeah. >> great prop. but i just wanted to say i think a lot of what vanessa is talking about is narrative. i don't think that we have created a narrative about taxation that people can understand and gravitate to. the narrative that we've got now is all topsy-turvy.
for 30 or 40 years, we've been told -- and the narrative has sunk in -- that if we give people at the top the money, that we're all going to benefit at the bottom. and the only thing that's trickled down, quite frankly, is misery. , what needs to -- for example, and i don't think most people know this, but companies like wall -- walmart and mcdonald's actually have seminars to tell their people, look, if you can't make it on the salary that we're paying you, here are some government programs you can go to. now, the waltons are worth $40 billion. we're subsidizing their employees. we are subsidizing their wealth with our tax dollars. if that's not insulting and if that doesn't get people's ire up, then there's no hope for this country. thank you. >> i've forgotten who just proposed a tax specifically on companies that -- >> [inaudible] >> yeah, that sort of disproportionately use government benefits to subsidize wages or benefits. the gentleman right behind there, we'll take those --
>> yes, just a quick question/comment. discussion on fairness has all been around sort of the rich and the poor, tax rates, loopholes, shelters, fair share. has there been any consideration in your research, has anything come up about tax simplification? i mean, equal treatment before the law such as, for example, getting rid of all exemptions, credits, deductions, special treatments in the tax system, treating, for example, all income as income regardless of its, of its source or verification, you know, of its source? i only say this because i look at the tax form every year, and if you did that for me, my taxes would be paid on a postcard. because the irs knows all my sources of income, they know the rate that, you know, i'm supposed to owe, and, you know? so, and that actually would impact a huge majority of people in this country who pay wages
and have their, you know, taxes withheld. >> yeah, well, that's a bookend question to the question by the gentleman in the back which is about using the tax code to accomplish things. one other idea, president obama actually talked about this in his campaign, and none of the tax-preparing forms liked it. which is that, in fact, most people pay on a short form, and you could actually send people a bill on their taxes where they wouldn't have to fill out anything. and on this tax simplification, the people who complain are the people who get the most damn benefits out of the tax system. and if those things weren't there, they'd pay in many cases higher taxes. so it's a very odd -- i think simplification is harder than it looks. anyway, all three of these questions are good. >> if you look at the reasons,
the messaging -- talking about narrative -- the messaging that the republicans, that paul ryan used on his blueprint was they always led with simplification, okay? and they're more actually now talking about getting rid of loopholes, making the system fairer by getting rid of loopholes. they sort of co-opted our language on that. but the simplification can appeal to everybody, right? but fundamentally it's who uses all the loopholes. [laughter] you know, it's the folks at the top. on the narrative question, i think we have half of a narrative that is successful, and that's the tax fair beness narrative. -- tax fairness narrative. i think we have trouble on the other half of the narrative which is what do you want to do with that money, how do we need to make america better, how do we need to -- what's the role of government. and that's where things fall apart for us. maybe that's too strong a statement. that's where things are more challenging, because of all the stuff people are hearing about government and, you know, on the
left and the right about how the system's rigged, it's working on behalf of the rich and corporations or big unions, you know? so it's that problem. that's going to have to shake itself out. as i say, when the pendulum swings back -- [laughter] swings to the sort of more liberal, progressive side of things, i think that'll shake out. >> the, what about using the tax code to get things done? >> so i think that that has some, you know, i think heather talked a little bit about this already. the more complicated you make the tax code, even if there are benefits to, you know, working people, benefits you'd like to see people have for child tax credit or things like this, the more complicated you make the tax code, it makes it harder to see what government's doing, and it convinces them that taxes are complicated x. if taxes are complicated, i know who's getting the real deal here, the people who have the fancy accountants and lawyers, not me, right? so complaints about simplification, in a survey people will check different
boxes for you, but in an interview setting, they were almost impossible to disentangle. people would go straight to the certainty that rich people weren't paying their share because what they're imagining is i have to remember my earned income tax credit, you've got to remember your college, you know, all these things. so everyone has to remember their own little things. and every time they're thinking about remembering those things, they're reminded that someone fancier with them with a better accountant is getting bigger deductions. and it creates loopholes and rates and all these things. i think people are experiencial learners, and the tax-paying process is a time when they learn what government does, and it's leading them to wrong ideas and certain ideas about how our government works more broadly. so we need to think about that when we're constructing these systemses and trust that, you know, rather than nudge people here and there, it would be nice to respect them and give them the information they need to make decisions as citizens.
>> although there's an irony, because if you take away the homeowner deduction, every homeowner would be furious. and if you take away the state and local tax deduction, everybody in the high-tax states would be furious. so it's in the ideas of the payer. i can't resist putting you on the spot, guy. one of my favorite pollsters, an old friend, is in the audience. do you have a thought here for us and then one last question before we close after guy. >> vanessa, you talked about sort of the positive values associated with identifying one's self as a taxpayer. a lot of the policy fights though that frank and other groups will be involved in will be dealing in a sense with the reverse scenario; that is, trying to stop efforts to give new tax advantages and breaks to corporations or high income individuals. and i'm wondering if anything you heard in your interviews would give guidance on the kind of language to describe companies or wealthy individuals who attempt to reduce their tax
burden or avoid their tax obligations entirely? what is the negative language, the sort of reverse of civic virtue? .. a big challenge, they sound pretty good, closing loopholes sounds pretty good if you get a clear answer to the overall -- people draw that connection to the services that don't exist in my community and those a real
challenges but at the same time part of this is about having courage to talk about taxation and people don't have the courage to talk about it but if we have a democratic form of government, and shared investment, and how do we have the courage of our convictions? and the equity we are creating or the service it is paying for. it doesn't help what you are saying. it is about the perfect set of words.
and this particular fight in the next few weeks, the overseas question on the right and the left. that is something that is offensive to people who are paying their taxes and can't hide their money. and that larger idea, taxpaying citizens do to support their community and their country. and the patriotic thing, something both true and resonates easily. >> host: any taxpayer feel excluded if i end on time. and putting -- >> you talked about how
taxpayer, americans label taxpayer to themselves, shorthand for abstaining citizen. and a backlash against people who they don't label as a taxpayer even though the evidence is contrary to fat undocumented persons pay more in taxes than they receive in benefits and ignorant to that completely but what would you attribute to this change, what is the future of that? will it be improved or get worse? >> the most fundamental question we face. thank you for asking it. you are exactly right, undocumented immigrants paying their fair share in taxes, at the end of the day, working to prop up social security and medicare which they are not,
they also, all-american people pay disproportionately in sales and use taxes and all the taxes -- so much -- we don't have this annoying process to think about them, exactly right and i don't know, it is hard to find out, i don't think telling people the facts whether responding in emotional reality, the information about how it works, not sure coming back to the health of our social security system is the way to change those mind but what we are seeing is understanding tax policy for divisions in our society and those look pretty fundamental and have them for a long time, the idea of benefits
from taxes and that was that use and still very different ethnicity now with undocumented immigrants who are not paying taxes and that is a deep divide in this country and providing better information, some bridge that divide, wonder who the taxpayer -- what we crossed across that fundamental challenge that we face which is building a fair economy with multiethnic community. [applause] >> one of the things social scientists do, people wonder, fair accounting, and appendix where she summarizes her
interviews, the last word, apache is a 58-year-old registered nurse from sacramento, california. if it is ethical to find legal ways to avoid paying much in taxes, and so that we can continue to have people following diseases and immunizations for our kids, otherwise we would be screwed. thank you very much. [applause] [inaudible conversations]
>> you are watching booktv on c-span2, television for serious readers. here is our prime time line up. at 7:00 pm eastern hillary clinton talks about her forthcoming book. that all happens tonight on c-span2's booktv. >> the largest metropolitan center between sacramento or san francisco and portland and going east all the way to denver.
it is a center for education and health. you have hospitals, schools, it is a transportation center. but because of the beautiful environment and recreational opportunities, to this day it is and outdoorsy place as you see from the river. >> welcome to eugene, oregon, on booktv. in cooperation with our comcast cable partners over the next 90 minutes we will talk about eugene and the surrounding areas and we will hear from local authors whose books help tell the story of the nation. first we hear about counterculture writer ken kesey. >> we are at the university of eg
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