In most accounts, the modern American "tax revolt" begins with Proposition 13, passed by California voters in June 1978. In this telling, the revolt represents an antigovernment, antiliberal shift among white homeowners instrumental in the "rise of the right" and the fall of the "New Deal order" that culminated in Ronald Reagan's election in 1980 and his subsequent tax cuts. This article challenges that account by demonstrating that the revolt began more than a decade before Prop 13 as approval rates for local levies and bonds reached all-time lows. This local revolt was not limited to whites, nor did it portend rising conservatism. Instead, it was rooted in lower- and middle-income Americans' frustrations with steep rises in unfair, regressive taxes during the post–World War II decades. The Kennedy-Johnson "Growth Liberals," who were busy cutting progressive federal taxes at the same time that regressive state and local taxes were soaring, missed this pocketbook squeeze, thereby setting the stage for later events like Prop 13.


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pp. 105-150
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