Dan Mitchell 2

23 May 2017, 01:48 PM

I am Dan Mitchell, senior fellow at the Cato Institute. Ask Me Anything May 26th 12pm-4pm ET

My job at the Cato Institute is trying to educate folks about the benefits small government and low taxes, a task that is especially challenging when dealing with politicians in Washington. I'm happy to share my thoughts on what will happen this year in DC, and also answer questions about taxes, spending, and other economic issues. Some of my favorite topics include tax refrom, tax havens, the failure of statism around the world, and the economic burden of government spending. 

Comments (24)

  • Tricia Beck

    about 2 years ago

    The Cato Institute and FEE pursue similar objectives through different means. How can lovers of liberty synthesize the great academic work Cato advocates and the "economics with heart" approach that FEE uses in seminars, courses, and the Campus Ambassador program to create a winning formula for advocating classical liberal policy and philosophy?

  • Grant Brown

    about 2 years ago

    Are you familiar with the taxation is theft meme? Do you have a favorite?

  • Dan Mitchell

    about 2 years ago

    Grant, 

    i enjoy that meme, but I don't have a favorite. However, I have a couple of images that I always use when trying to teach about the economics of taxation. https://danieljmitchell.wordpress.com/2014/11/08/everything-you-ever-wanted-to-know-about-supply-side-economics-in-a-single-image/

    And http://freedomandprosperity.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Apple-harvest-capital-tax.jpg, taken from https://danieljmitchell.wordpress.com/2015/04/14/tax-policy-double-taxation-tax-reform-and-the-proper-definition-of-income/

  • Steve Conover

    about 2 years ago

    The instructions for joining the forum and asking a question were unclear. After poking around for 20 minutes, I found this spot; is this the right place to ask a question?

  • Dan Mitchell

    about 2 years ago

    Steve,

    yes, ask away. 

  • Marianne March

    about 2 years ago

    Dan,

    I was so interested to read about your experience with Liberland. What do you think Liberland can do to start off on the right foot and be taken seriously by the world (and maybe inspire others to follow a similar track)?

  • Steve Conover

    about 2 years ago

    You frequently talk about "big government" -- and it sounds as if your measure for that is the magnitude of government spending. Is my inference correct? 

  • Dan Mitchell

    about 2 years ago

    Tricia,

    i don't have a solid answer. Ultimately, we need to win the moral argument for liberty. For many people, though, I think we need to start with utilitarian arguments about how limited government produces better results. 

  • Dan Sanchez

    about 2 years ago

    How did you first discover free market ideas? Also, how does political decentralization favor liberty?

  • Steve Conover

    about 2 years ago

    This site is unresponsive.

    I'll exit with this, just in case you are seeing these questions, Dan: Do you read the comments to your Facebook posts, and respond to honest questions there? If so, I'll stick with that forum, because I do have a few

  • Richard Morris

    about 2 years ago

    How can we get you on the Council of Economic Advisors to the President?

  • Dan Mitchell

    about 2 years ago

    Marianne,

    The Liberland folks unquestionably face an uphill battle when it comes to gaining sovereign control over the island they've claimed. But I was impressed by the fact that they have a very practical approach to what seems like an impractical dream.

    If they do succeed in getting sovereign control, I think they would become a very good example. Sort of like Monaco, but with even smaller government (or even private(-ish) governance.

    For those who didn't see my column (and speech) on Liberland, click here.

  • Dan Mitchell

    about 2 years ago

     Steve,

    I'm a fiscal policy wonk, so I'm sometimes guilty of focusing on tax and spending issues, but I always try to remind myself about the Fraser Institute's Economic Freedom of the World, which shows that fiscal policy, monetary policy, trade policy, regulatory policy, and rule of law/property rights are equally important drivers of prosperity.

  • Dan Mitchell

    about 2 years ago

    Dan Sanchez,

    How did I become a libertarian? People can thank (or blame) Ronald Reagan. For reasons that I still don't undertand, his 1976 campaign triggered my interest in public policy. As I learned more, I realized I was a libertarian rather than a conservative.

  • Dan Mitchell

    about 2 years ago

    Richard,

    You would have to hold a gun to my head before I took a position in an Administration. Moreover, Trump actually picked a very sensible person, Kevin Hassett of the American Enterprise Institute, to be the Chairman of his Council of Economic Advisers.

    Which gives me an opportunity to say something semi-controversial. I want good people to take positions with the Trump Administration. Not because I think he'll necessarily listen to them, but at least they will have an opportunity to maybe move the ball in the right directions.

    Yes, I realize it's hypocritical for me to encourage other libertarians (or small-government conservatives) to take positions with the Administration when I wouldn't want to do it myself. But it is what it is.

  • Michael James

    about 2 years ago

    Greetings Dan, 

    President Trump is proposing a 15% corporate tax, I find this to be egregious. I can't see where this tax does any earthly good for anyone. That tax is paid for by 1) consumers in the form of higher prices, 2) workers in the form of reduced wages and benefits 3) investors in the form of lower returns in our retirement accounts. 

    With a Republican majority in the house and senate, isn't better to argue for the complete elimination of the tax on both economic and moral grounds, than to argue for a rate that's merely less bad than the current rate.

    Where am I flawed in my thinking? If we ever had a chance of getting rid of this burden on society the time should be now!

    - Michael James

  • Dan Mitchell

    about 2 years ago

    I wrote just yesterday that there are nine compelling reasons to slash the corporate rate.

    And I won't argue against a proposal to eliminate the tax. That being said, so long as there are taxes on income, I want there to be equal treatment of labor income and capital income (i.e., all taxed, but only one time and at the lowest-possible rate).

    So that means taxing business income either at the business level or the shareholder level. If you want more details, this column is a good place to start.

  • Micah B. Haber

    about 2 years ago

    Dear Mr. Dan Mitchell,

    In light of asking you anything, can you please explain why Cato is openly hostile to "purer," more "radical," or simply more libertarian organizations? Thanks.

  • Michael James

    about 2 years ago

     Thanks Dan! keep up the good fight! You're a true humaintarian.

  • Dan Mitchell

    about 2 years ago

    Micah,

    I'm just a worker bee, but I've never sensed hostility to other libertarian groups. I know we have a reputation of being "practical," but given our target audience, I think it is wise to use moderate rhetoric in pursuit of radical goals. 

  • Veronique de Rugy

    about 2 years ago

    The big debate dividing the policy world these days is about whether the US should move to a border adjustment tax. Statist idea or not?

  • Dan Mitchell

    about 2 years ago

    I think House Republicans have their hearts in the right place, but I don't think the BAT is a good idea. Too many risks from a political economy perspective. 

  • Bill Rafter

    about 2 years ago

    I am thinking of participating in my town’s government.  It has become the local tradition for the town to sponge off either the State (NJ) or Federal government, which rankles me.  Cato and other organizations offer solutions to the problems of our national government.  Is Cato (or anyone else) doing any work with regard to Libertarian solutions to local government?