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Daniel J. Mitchell

Member of: FEE Faculty Network

Daniel J. Mitchell is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute who specializes in fiscal policy, particularly tax reform, international tax competition, and the economic burden of government spending. He also serves on the editorial board of the Cayman Financial Review. Prior to joining Cato, Mitchell was a senior fellow with the Heritage Foundation, and an economist for Senator Bob Packwood and the Senate Finance Committee. Dan’s work has been published in numerous outlets, including the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Villanova Law Review, Public Choice, Emory Law Journal, Forbes, USA Today, Offshore Investment, Playboy, and Investor’s Business Daily. He has appeared on all the major TV networks, and has given speeches in almost 40 states and more than 30 countries. Dan earned a PhD in economics from George Mason University.

Daniel J. Mitchell's Articles

Your Daily Dose of Government Insanity

From spy agencies hiring terrorists to a $465 fine for a crack in a drivers license, here are some of the latest adventures in government land that would be hilarious if they weren't so tragic.

- February 14, 2017

Electronic Privacy Laws are Obsolete

DOJ bureaucrats are exploiting old laws that don't provide clear guidance on how to deal with modern technology. Fortunately, that’s something that should be easy to fix.

- February 13, 2017

Jeff Sessions and the Thuggery of Asset Forfeiture

Jeff Sessions is a supporter of “asset forfeiture,” which occurs when governments steal money and property from citizens without convicting them of any crime. Sometimes without even charging them with a crime. We're not joking. This happens with distressing regularity.

- February 13, 2017

Spending Restraint is Unleashing the British Economy

Spending restraint reduces the problem of excessive government and also addresses the symptom of large deficits. The United Kingdom provides the latest example of this phenomenon.

- February 11, 2017

The Greeks Drown in Taxes While Their Government Spends

On the eve of the crisis, the tax burden in Greece totaled 38.9 percent of GDP. This year, taxes are projected to reach 52.0 percent of economic output. Government spending, however, has only been reduced from 54.1 percent of GDP to 52.2 percent.

- February 10, 2017

Why France Is Such a Mess

France is in big trouble. France pays the highest tax rates in Europe. The fiscal sectors are so bad that even parts of the government are concluding that market-based reforms are necessary. And they don't have any presidential candidates that stand for liberty.

- February 09, 2017

Will We Have a Free-Lunch Economy, or a Real One?

I’m glad that Donald Trump wants faster growth, but does he understand the right recipe for prosperity? Sometimes Trump makes Obama-style arguments about the Keynesian elixir of government infrastructure spending, and sometimes he talks about lowering taxes and reducing the burden of red tape. I don’t know what’s he’s ultimately going to decide, but, as the late Yogi Berra might say, the debate over “stimulus” is deja vu all over again.

- February 07, 2017

Romania's Politicians Have Literally Legalized Corruption

We have an early contestant for the 2017 politician of the year award. And it’s going to be a group award. Romania’s Social Democrats have just voted to legalize abuse of power as long as it is deemed to have financial damage of less than €44,000. It's probably just a coincidence that the measure will clear several leading politicians who are under investigation in abuse-of-power cases.

- February 06, 2017

Innocent Victims of the War on Money Laundering

Anti-money laundering laws are the modern version of prohibition: well-meaning in theory but expensive and counter-productive in practice. If deregulation is the goal, AML laws should definitely be on the chopping block.

- February 06, 2017

Americans Are More Charitable than “Socially Conscious” Europeans

People in the United States are so generous that their voluntary giving amounts to 10.2 percent of GDP. The only other nations that even crack 5 percent of GDP are the Netherlands, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

- February 03, 2017

Government Shouldn't Bet Its Finances All on One Regulation

The rivalry made possible by decentralization and diversity played a big role in both economic and political liberalization. In other words, it’s not just a matter of tax competition and tax havens. But the idea of diversification is another argument for the jurisdictional differences encouraged by national sovereignty: reduce risk by making sure one or two mistakes won’t cause a catastrophe.

- February 01, 2017

Why Big Oil Is Lobbying for a Carbon Tax

The case for a carbon tax isn't completely devoid of sound arguments, but it's undeniable that many companies supporting the idea are doing so because they will benefit from imposing hardships on their competitors.

- February 01, 2017

5 Questions to Ask Your Protectionist Friends

Did you know that manufacturing employment is falling because of productivity growth rather than trade? Did you know that protectionism is a net job destroyer? Here are five questions to ask that one friend of yours who still thinks trade restrictions are a good idea.

- January 31, 2017

Post-Brexit Eurocrats Learned Nothing and Forgot Nothing

Senior politicians in Brussels are beating the drum for added centralization:

"…divergence creates fragility… Progress must happen…towards a genuine Economic Union…towards a Fiscal Union…need to shift from a system of rules and guidelines for national economic policy-making to a system of further sovereignty sharing within common institutions…some degree of public risk sharing…including a ‘social protection floor’…a shared sense of purpose among all Member States "

Wow. I don’t know if I’ve ever read something so wildly wrong. As Nassim Nicholas Taleb has sagely observed, it is centralization and harmonization that creates systemic risk.

- January 31, 2017

The Australian Corporate Tax Experiment

Economists at the Australian Treasury crunched the numbers and estimated the economic effects of a lower corporate tax rate. Turns out  a lower corporate tax rate offset by a reduction in the burden of government spending results in higher national income.

- January 28, 2017

A Federal Hiring Freeze Isn't Nearly Enough

The real goal should be program terminations.

- January 26, 2017

More and More Americans Need a License to Make a Living

A 2013 study found that 25% of today’s workforce is in an occupation licensed by a state entity, up from just 5% in 1950. And the number of licensed professionals is not growing because everyone is suddenly becoming a doctor or a lawyer. Instead, it is the number of professions requiring licenses that is growing. Security guards, florists, barbers, massage therapists, interior decorators, manicurists, hair stylists, personal trainers, tree trimmers and auctioneers work in just some of the many, many professions that state legislatures have seen fit to cartelize.

Occupational licensing has grown not because consumers demanded it, but because lobbyists recognized a business opportunity where they could use government power to get rich at the public’s expense. Consumers end up paying $200 billion in higher costs annually, prospective professionals lose an estimated three million jobs, and millions more Americans find it harder to live where they want due to licensing requirements.

- January 25, 2017

Will Trumponomics Mean More Freedom and Prosperity?

The bad news about Trump's inauguration speech is that Trump didn’t say much about liberty or shrinking the size and scope of Washington. On the other hand, he excoriated Washington insiders for lining their pockets at the expense of the overall nation. If he’s serious about curtailing slease in DC, the only solution is smaller government.

- January 24, 2017

Thank Goodness for Tax Havens!

According to the left-wing hack organization Oxfam, places with good business tax policy are ostensibly bad because politicians have less money to waste.

- January 21, 2017

Europe Rose Because of Jurisdictional Competition

Several hundred years ago, Europe experienced the enlightenment and industrial revolution while the empires of Asia languished. This was due in part to the fact that Europe benefited from decentralization and jurisdictional competition.

- January 20, 2017

Are Democracies Roving or Stationary Bandits?

Mancur Olson (1932-1998) was a great economist who came up with a very useful analogy to help explain the behavior of many governments. He pointed out that a “roving bandit” has an incentive to maximize short-run plunder by stealing everything from victims (i.e. a 100 percent tax rate), whereas a “stationary bandit” has an incentive to maximize long-run plunder by stealing just a portion of what victims produce every year (i.e., the revenue-maximizing tax rate).

- January 19, 2017

Breaking! Government Train Project Late and Over-Budget

Now if a government project were on time and on budget, that would really be a headline. Politicians routinely lie about the real costs of projects. They figure it will be too late to reverse path once it becomes apparent that something will cost far more than the initial low-ball estimates.

- January 18, 2017

Which State is the Biggest Moocher of Them All?

If you compared the map of which states receive the most aid with a map of poverty rates, there would be a noticeable overlap. A very libertarian-oriented state with a very low tax burden might look like a moocher state simply because its tax collections are small relative to formulaic transfers from Uncle Sam.

- January 18, 2017

The Soda Police Learn a Valuable Lesson about Taxes

Philadelphians are obviously outraged by the skyrocketing cost of things as simple as a soda, which has prompted some businesses to post signs explaining why the drinks are now so damned expensive. Kenney said that this effort by businesses to explain the rising cost is “wrong” and “misleading.”

- January 17, 2017

Obama's Legacy is Dismal but Forgettable

Obama wanted to “fundamentally transform” America but instead turned out to be an incremental statist. Even if Obama's policy wins aren't revoked, they were hardly game-changers.

- January 16, 2017

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