We are very pleased to publish a new SPERI Paper by Dr Inga Rademacher. Dr Rademacher’s paper ‘Universality, market justice, wasteful government: the legitimacy of tax cuts on higher incomes in the United States 1981-2001’ aims to explain the impact of legitimation practices on the acceptance of heightened inequality in the US tax system.
The growing acceptance of neoliberal tax cuts, concessions in redistribution and increasing inequality among American policy makers since the 1980s is often ascribed to rising authority of the economics profession. But through content analysis the paper shows that the two largest tax cuts in American history, the Reagan tax cut in 1981 and the George W. Bush tax cut in 2001, only persisted when the Republican Party developed strong normative narratives of universality, market justice and wasteful government which pushed Democratic arguments in the cognitive realm. Dr Rademacher argues that this normative imbalance is the source of growing acceptance of neoliberalism and that the power of normative arguments is greater than the power of economic theory in legitimating inequality.
Dr Inga Rademacher is an Associate Lecturer for Political Economy at the Department for Politics and International Relations at Goldsmiths College; University of London. Her research explores American and German tax cuts for higher incomes since the 1980s with a particular focus on societal conflicts over the distribution of resources in times of productivity decline.