When I interviewed Kimberly Clausing in 2017, she was an economics professor at Reed College in Portland, Ore., with intriguing but seemingly unachievable ideas for how to make multinational corporations pay taxes. I wrote that her plan was worth studying “if only to see how much better things could be if politics didn’t get in the way.”
Well, look at her now. In January, just five days after starting a new job at UCLA School of Law, she was offered the position of deputy assistant Treasury secretary for tax analysis. She took a leave from UCLA a month later to make the move to Washington. Her boss, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, and her boss’s boss, President Joe Biden, have embraced international cooperation in fighting tax avoidance. And the long-shot agenda that Clausing and a circle of academics and activists campaigned for is suddenly looking doable. “There is a strong international consensus around addressing these problems, and our action can encourage action abroad,” she said in February in testimony to the Senate Finance Committee.