Research

You can find a full list of my publications on my CV here. The title and abstracts of my current working papers are below.

Why No Fiscal Equalization in the United States? State Bargaining Power and Interstate Redistribution

Among advanced welfare regimes with federal forms of government, only the United States lacks a program of fiscal equalization to reduce regional disparities in fiscal capacity between states. Despite the association between limited fiscal capacity, regressive taxation, and meager social spending among states, research on the unique absence equalization in the U.S. is almost nonexistent. This article fills this gap in the literature with a comparative analysis of the U.S. and Canada from the 1930s through 1970s. I argue that differences in postwar bargaining power explain why poor Canadian provinces were able to successfully lobby for equalization while poor American states failed. In doing so, I challenge previous explanations based on racial animosity, conservative ideology, and legislative institutions to show the importance of seemingly minor factors in setting the U.S. on the distinctive trajectory we call American exceptionalism.

The Road Not Taken: The Politics of Mortgage Tax Relief in the U.S. and U.K.

Both the U.S. and the U.K. introduced tax deductions for (mortgage) interest paid as part of their original income tax legislation. Whereas the home mortgage interest deduction (HMID) has come to be seen as an untouchable “third rail” in American politics, the British government quietly eliminated mortgage interest relief (MIR) in 2000. This paper traces the divergence in outcomes to the 1970s with an emphasis on the interaction between institutions and policy sequence. The 1974 decision of British policymakers to place a nominal cap on MIR led to substantial erosion in the inflationary decade that followed. This weakened political support, allowing successive governments to actively reduce and eliminate it between 1991 and 2000. The structure of American political institutions prevented policymakers from successfully placing a nominal cap on HMID until 1987, at which point inflation was back under control. As a result, the political cost of directly attacking HMID remains strong until this day.

Drafts available upon request.