Vanessa S. Williamson

Senior Fellow in Governance Studies; Senior Fellow at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, Brookings Institution

Connect with Vanessa

About Vanessa

Williamson’s research focuses on the politics of taxation in America. She worked at the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America from 2004 to 2010, serving as their Policy Director from 2007.


How to Revitalize America's Local Political Parties

  • Kenneth T. Andrews
  • Hahrie Han
  • Alexander W. Hertel-Fernandez
  • Lara Putnam
  • Daniel Schlozman , Theda Skocpol ,
  • Vanessa S. Williamson
  • Sarah E. James
  • Caroline Tervo

The Tea Party Lives On - And Pulls Republicans to the Right

    Theda Skocpol ,

Who Pays America's Taxes?

  • Alexander W. Hertel-Fernandez

Making Sense of the Tea Party

    Theda Skocpol ,

In the News

Opinion: "The I.R.S. Can Register Voters As Well as the D.M.V., and Maybe Better," Vanessa S. Williamson (with Jeremy Bearer-Friend), The New York Times, September 29, 2021.
Opinion: "Tonight, Biden Could Use Trump’s Returns to Shift the Debate on Taxes," Vanessa S. Williamson, The Washington Post, September 29, 2020.
Quoted by Arthur Delaney in "The Worst Debate Question," HuffPost, October 15, 2019.
Quoted by German Lopez in "I was Skeptical of Unions. Then I Joined One.," Vox, August 19, 2019.
Quoted by Perry Bacon Jr. in "GOP Politicians are Much More Resistant to Gun Control than GOP Voters Are ," FiveThirtyEight, August 6, 2019.
Research discussed by Elizabeth Dohms, in "Spelling Out Where Your Federal Tax Dollars Go," Wisconsin Public Radio, April 12, 2019.
Opinion: "The Filer Voter Experiment: How Effective is Voter Registration at Tax Time?," Vanessa S. Williamson, Brookings, April 2, 2019.
Opinion: "'Tax-the-Rich' Policies are All the Rage in the US," Vanessa S. Williamson, The Hill, February 17, 2019.
Research discussed by Jessica Smith, in "Trump Promises Another Tax Cut for Middle-Class," ABC4 News, October 25, 2018.
Opinion: "Right-to-Work Laws Have Devastated Unions — and Democrats," Vanessa S. Williamson (with Alexander W. Hertel-Fernandez and James Feigenbaum), New York Times, March 8, 2018.
Quoted by Andrew Hanna and Caitlin Emma in "Supreme Court Could Cripple Public Unions in Run-Up to 2018 Midterms," Politico, February 25, 2018.
Quoted by Noam Gidron in "The Left Shouldn’t Fear Nationalism. It Should Embrace It.," Vox, February 8, 2018.
Opinion: "What Can (or Should) Activists Learn from the Tea Party?," Vanessa S. Williamson (with Theda Skocpol), The Washington Post, May 11, 2017.
Guest on WBUR, February 13, 2017.
Opinion: "How the Women’s March Could Have a Lasting Historical Impact," Vanessa S. Williamson, Teen Vogue, January 19, 2017.
Opinion: "Choose Your Own Post-Mortem: Part 1," Vanessa S. Williamson (with Carly Knight), Brookings Institution, November 16, 2016.
Opinion: "Choose Your Own Post-Mortem: Part 2," Vanessa S. Williamson (with Carly Knight), Brookings Institution, November 16, 2016.
Opinion: "What the Tea Party Tells Us about the Trump Presidency," Vanessa S. Williamson, Brookings Institution, November 9, 2016.
Opinion: "Getting Federal Stimulus Money Turned Blue U.S. Counties Bluer, and Red Counties Redder. How Can That Be?," Vanessa S. Williamson (with Katherine Levine Einstein and Kris-Stella Trump), The Washington Post, June 2, 2016.
Opinion: "Can Sanders Do for Income Inequality What Clinton Did for Healthcare?," Vanessa S. Williamson, Brookings Institution, May 23, 2016.
Opinion: "Clinton v. Sanders: New Democrats or the New Deal?," Vanessa S. Williamson, Brookings Institution, January 19, 2016.
Opinion: "Trump's 'Populist' Tax Plan is Nothing but a Bush-Era Giveaway to the Rich," Vanessa S. Williamson, Talking Points Memo, September 29, 2015.
Opinion: "How Bush-Appointed Ivy Leaguer Ted Cruz Became a Tea Party Darling," Vanessa S. Williamson, Talking Points Memo, March 25, 2015.
Quoted by Elias Isquith in "Tom Coburn’s Lunacy and the Real Meaning of the Immigration Fight," Salon, November 20, 2014.
Research discussed by Matthew W. Hughey and Gregory S. Parks, in "Fox News' Divisive Race Strategy: How O'Reilly, Hannity and Coulter Intentionally Tore America Apart," Salon, May 17, 2014.
Quoted by in "The Ten Best Political Books of 2012," The New Yorker, December 14, 2012.
Interviewed in "Interview to discuss The Tea Party and the Remaking of Republican Conservatism," The Rachel Maddow Show, December 9, 2011.


"The Tea Party and the Remaking of Republican Conservatism" (with Theda Skocpol) (Oxford University Press, 2012).
Shows how grassroots activism, elite funders and policy advocates, and the right-wing media interact to allow the Tea Party to boost the GOP and prod it to the right. Includes interviews with grass roots activists and an analysis of the role of the Tea Party in the 2010 and 2012 elections.