|Motto||"Individual Liberty, Free Markets, and Peace"|
|Founders||Ed Crane, Charles Koch, Murray Rothbard|
|Type||501(c)(3) Non-profit think tank|
|Focus||Public advocacy, media exposure and societal influence|
President and CEO
|Peter N. Goettler|
|Robert A. Levy|
70 adjunct faculty
|Charles Koch Foundation; Cato Foundation|
The Cato Institute is an American libertarian think tank headquartered in Washington, D.C. It was founded as the Charles Koch Foundation in 1974 by Ed Crane, Murray Rothbard, and Charles Koch,chairman of the board and chief executive officer of the conglomerate Koch Industries. In July 1976, the name was changed to the Cato Institute. Cato was established to have a focus on public advocacy, media exposure and societal influence. According to the 2017 Global Go To Think Tank Index Report (Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program, University of Pennsylvania), Cato is number 15 in the "Top Think Tanks Worldwide" and number 10 in the "Top Think Tanks in the United States".
The Cato Institute is libertarian in its political philosophy, and advocates a limited role for government in domestic and foreign affairs as well as a strong protection of civil rights. This includes support for the demilitarization of the police, lowering or abolishing most taxes, opposition to the Federal Reserve system, the privatization of numerous government agencies and programs including Social Security, the Affordable Care Act and the United States Postal Service, along with adhering to a non-interventionist foreign policy.
The institute was founded in December 1974 in Wichita, Kansas, as the Charles Koch Foundation and initially funded by Charles Koch.The other members of the first board of directors included co-founder Murray Rothbard, libertarian scholar Earl Ravenal, and businessmen Sam H. Husbands Jr. and David H. Padden. At the suggestion of Rothbard, the institute changed its name in 1976 to Cato Institute after Cato's Letters , a series of British essays penned in the early 18th century by John Trenchard and Thomas Gordon.
Cato relocated first to San Francisco, California, in 1977, then to Washington, D.C., in 1981, settling initially in a historic house on Capitol Hill. p446) The institute moved to its current location on Massachusetts Avenue in 1993. Cato Institute was named the fifth-ranked think tank in the world for 2009 in a study of think tanks by James G. McGann, PhD of the University of Pennsylvania, based on a criterion of excellence in "producing rigorous and relevant research, publications and programs in one or more substantive areas of research".(
By 2011, the Cato Institute had a budget of $39 million and was "one of the largest think tanks in Washington. In 2012, Ed Crane—who was then the president of Cato, William Niskanen—who had served as Cato chairman, and the Koch brothers—with 50 percent of Cato shares,held shares in Cato Institute. When Niskanen died in March 2012, the Koch brothers contested Niskanen's wife's inheritance of 25 percent of Cato's shares in a lawsuit filed in a court in Kansas. The brothers sued for control of the Cato Institute. In response to the lawsuit which called for Cranes' resignation, "independent parties on the political Left, Right, and Center" provided "testimonials to Cato's effectiveness" as a respected leader of thought, educator and contributor to the "marketplace of ideas". During the 2012 United States presidential election, the Koch brothers were also "prominent donors" to the Americans For Prosperity who supported the Tea Party movement and opposed President Obama. Those who supported Cato's existing management rallied around the "Save Cato" banner, while those who supported the Koch brothers, called "For a Better Cato".
Various Cato programs were favorably ranked in a survey published by the University of Pennsylvania in 2012.
The Cato Institute publishes numerous policy studies, briefing papers, periodicals, and books. Peer-reviewed academic journals include the Cato Journaland Regulation. Other periodicals include Cato's Letter, Cato Supreme Court Review, and Cato Policy Report. Cato published Inquiry Magazine from 1977 to 1982 (before transferring it to the Libertarian Review Foundation) and Literature of Liberty from 1978 to 1979 (before transferring it to the Institute for Humane Studies).
Notable books from Cato and Cato scholars include:
In addition to maintaining its own website in English and Spanish,Cato maintains websites focused on particular topics:
Social media sponsored by Cato includes "Daily Podcasts" (through iTunes and RSS feeds), plus pages on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and YouTube.
Speakers at Cato have included Federal Reserve Chairmen Alan Greenspan and Ben Bernanke, and International Monetary Fund Managing Director Rodrigo de Rato.In 2009 Czech Republic President Václav Klaus spoke at a conference.
Many Cato scholars advocate support for civil liberties, liberal immigration policies,drug liberalization, and the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell and laws restricting consensual sexual activity. The Cato Institute officially resists being labeled as part of the conservative movement because "'conservative' smacks of an unwillingness to change, of a desire to preserve the status quo".
In 2006, Markos Moulitsas of the Daily Kos proposed the term "Libertarian Democrat" to describe his particular liberal position, suggesting that libertarians should be allies of the Democratic Party. Replying, Cato vice president for research Brink Lindsey agreed that libertarians and liberals should view each other as natural ideological allies,and noted continuing differences between mainstream liberal views on economic policy and Cato's "Jeffersonian philosophy". Cato has stated on its "About Cato" page: "The Jeffersonian philosophy that animates Cato's work has increasingly come to be called 'libertarianism' or 'market liberalism.' It combines an appreciation for entrepreneurship, the market process, and lower taxes with strict respect for civil liberties and skepticism about the benefits of both the welfare state and foreign military adventurism."
Some Cato scholars disagree with conservatives on neo-conservative foreign policy, albeit that this has not always been uniform.
The relationship between Cato and the Ayn Rand Institute (ARI) improved with the nomination of Cato's new president John A. Allison IV in 2012. He is a former ARI board member and is reported to be an "ardent devotee" of Rand who has promoted reading her books to colleges nationwide.In March 2015 Allison retired and was replaced by Peter Goettler. Allison remains on the Cato Institute's board.
The Cato Institute advocates policies that advance "individual liberty, limited government, free markets, and peace". They are libertarian in their policy positions, typically advocating diminished government intervention in domestic, social, and economic policies and decreased military and political intervention worldwide. Cato was cited by columnist Ezra Klein as nonpartisan, saying that it is "the foremost advocate for small-government principles in American life" and it "advocates those principles when Democrats are in power, and when Republicans are in power";and Eric Lichtblau called Cato "one of the country's most widely cited research organizations." Nina Eastman reported in 1995 that "on any given day, House Majority Whip Tom DeLay of Texas might be visiting for lunch. Or Cato staffers might be plotting strategy with House Majority Leader Dick Armey, another Texan, and his staff."
Cato scholars have consistently called for the privatization of many government services and institutions, including NASA, Social Security, the United States Postal Service, the Transportation Security Administration, public schooling, public transportation systems, and public broadcasting.The institute opposes minimum wage laws, saying that they violate the freedom of contract and thus private property rights, and increase unemployment. It is opposed to expanding overtime regulations, arguing that it will benefit some employees in the short term, while costing jobs or lowering wages of others, and have no meaningful long-term impact. It opposes child labor prohibitions. It opposes public sector unions and supports right-to-work laws. It opposes universal health care, arguing that it is harmful to patients and an intrusion onto individual liberty. It is against affirmative action. It has also called for total abolition of the welfare state, and has argued that it should be replaced with reduced business regulations to create more jobs, and argues that private charities are fully capable of replacing it. Cato has also opposed antitrust laws.
Cato is an opponent of campaign finance reform, arguing that government is the ultimate form of potential corruption and that such laws undermine democracy by undermining competitive elections. Cato also supports the repeal of the Federal Election Campaign Act.
Cato has published strong criticisms of the 1998 settlement which many U.S. states signed with the tobacco industry.In 2004, Cato scholar Daniel Griswold wrote in support of President George W. Bush's failed proposal to grant temporary work visas to otherwise undocumented laborers which would have granted limited residency for the purpose of employment in the U.S.
The Cato Institute published a study proposing a Balanced Budget Veto Amendment to the United States Constitution.
In 2003, Cato filed an amicus brief in support of the Supreme Court's decision in Lawrence v. Texas , which struck down the remaining state laws that made private, non-commercial homosexual relations between consenting adults illegal. Cato cited the 14th Amendment, among other things, as the source of their support for the ruling. The amicus brief was cited in Justice Kennedy's majority opinion for the Court.
In 2006, Cato published a Policy Analysis criticising the Federal Marriage Amendment as unnecessary, anti-federalist, and anti-democratic.The amendment would have changed the United States Constitution to prohibit same-sex marriage; the amendment failed in both houses of Congress.
Cato scholars have been sharp critics of current U.S. drug policy and the perceived growing militarization of U.S. law enforcement.
In 2004, the institute published a paper arguing in favor of "drug re-importation".Cato has published numerous studies criticizing what it calls "corporate welfare", the practice of public officials funneling taxpayer money, usually via targeted budgetary spending, to politically connected corporate interests.
Cato president Ed Crane and Sierra Club executive director Carl Pope co-wrote a 2002 op-ed piece in The Washington Post calling for the abandonment of the Republican energy bill, arguing that it had become little more than a gravy train for Washington, D.C., lobbyists.Again in 2005, Cato scholar Jerry Taylor teamed up with Daniel Becker of the Sierra Club to attack the Republican Energy Bill as a give-away to corporate interests.
A 2006 study criticized the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
Cato's non-interventionist foreign policy views, and strong support for civil liberties, have frequently led Cato scholars to criticize those in power, both Republican and Democratic. Cato scholars opposed President George H. W. Bush's 1991 Gulf War operations (a position which caused the organization to lose nearly $1 million in funding), p454) President Bill Clinton's interventions in Haiti and Kosovo, President George W. Bush's 2003 invasion of Iraq, and President Barack Obama's 2011 military intervention in Libya. As a response to the September 11 attacks, Cato scholars supported the removal of al Qaeda and the Taliban regime from power, but are against an indefinite and open-ended military occupation of Afghanistan. Cato scholars criticized U.S. involvement in Saudi Arabian-led intervention in Yemen.(
Ted Galen Carpenter, Cato's vice president for defense and foreign policy studies, criticized many of the arguments offered to justify the 2003 invasion of Iraq. One of the war's earliest critics, Carpenter wrote in January 2002: "Ousting Saddam would make Washington responsible for Iraq's political future and entangle the United States in an endless nation-building mission beset by intractable problems."Carpenter also predicted: "Most notably there is the issue posed by two persistent regional secession movements: the Kurds in the north and the Shiites in the south." But in 2002 Carpenter wrote, "the United States should not shrink from confronting al-Qaeda in its Pakistani lair," a position echoed in the institute's policy recommendations for the 108th Congress. Cato's director of foreign policy studies, Christopher Preble, argues in The Power Problem: How American Military Dominance Makes Us Less Safe, Less Prosperous, and Less Free, that America's position as an unrivaled superpower tempts policymakers to constantly overreach and to redefine ever more broadly the "national interest".
Christopher Preble has said that the "scare campaign" to protect military spending from cuts under the Budget Control Act of 2011 has backfired.
Cato scholars have written about the issues of the environment, including global warming, environmental regulation, and energy policy.
PolitiFact.com and Scientific American have called Cato's work on global warming "false" and based on "data selection". [ citation needed ] Michaels, Balling and Christy agreed that global warming is related at least some degree to human activity but that some scientists and the media have overstated the danger.[ citation needed ] The Cato Institute has also criticized political attempts to stop global warming as expensive and ineffective:A December 2003 Cato panel included Patrick Michaels, Robert Balling and John Christy.
No known mechanism can stop global warming in the near term. International agreements, such as the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, would have no detectable effect on average temperature within any reasonable policy time frame (i.e., 50 years or so), even with full compliance.
Cato scholars have been critical of the Bush administration's views on energy policy. In 2003, Cato scholars Jerry Taylor and Peter Van Doren said the Republican Energy Bill was "hundreds of pages of corporate welfare, symbolic gestures, empty promises, and pork-barrel projects".They also spoke out against the former president's calls for larger ethanol subsidies.
With regard to the "Takings Clause" of the United States Constitution and environmental protection, libertarians associated with Cato contend that the Constitution is not adequate to guarantee the protection of private property rights.
Cato scholars were critical of George W. Bush's Republican administration (2001–2009) on several issues, including education,and excessive government spending. On other issues, they supported Bush administration initiatives, most notably health care, Social Security, global warming, tax policy, and immigration.
During the 2008 U.S. presidential election, Cato scholars criticized both major-party candidates, John McCain and Barack Obama.
Cato has criticized President Obama's stances on policy issues such as fiscal stimulus,healthcare reform, foreign policy, and drug-related matters, while supporting his stance on the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell and the DREAM Act.
Cato was critical of Trump's immigration ban, which was enacted in January 2017.
The Cato Institute is classified as a 501(c)(3) organization under U.S. Internal Revenue Code. For revenue, the institute is largely dependent on private contributions and does not receive government funding.The Cato Institute reported fiscal year 2015 revenue of $37.3 million and expenses of $29.4 million. According to the organization's annual report, $32.1 million came from individual donors, $2.9 million came from foundations, $1.2 million came from program revenue and other income, and $1 million came from corporations.
Sponsors of Cato have included FedEx, Google, CME Group and Whole Foods Market.The Nation reported support for Cato from the tobacco industry in a 2012 story.
|Funding details as of FYE March 2019: |
Net assets as of FYE March 2019: $81,422,000.
According to an agreement signed in 1977, there were to be four shareholders of the Cato Institute. They were Charles and David Koch, Ed Crane,and William A. Niskanen. Niskanen died in October 2011. In March 2012, a dispute broke out over the ownership of Niskanen's shares. Charles and David Koch filed suit in Kansas, seeking to void his shareholder seat. The Kochs argued that Niskanen's shares should first be offered to the board of the institute, and then to the remaining shareholders. Crane contended that Niskanen's share belonged to his widow, Kathryn Washburn, and that the move by the Kochs was an attempt to turn Cato into "some sort of auxiliary for the G.O.P ... It's detrimental to Cato, it's detrimental to Koch Industries, it's detrimental to the libertarian movement."
In June 2012, Cato announced an agreement in principle to settle the dispute by changing the institute's governing structure. Under the agreement, a board replaced the shareholders and Crane, who at the time was also chief executive officer, retired. Former BB&T bank CEO John A. Allison IV replaced him.The Koch brothers agreed to drop two lawsuits.
In 2018, several former Cato employees alleged longtime sexual harassment by Crane, going back to the 1990s and continuing until his departure in 2012. Politico reported that he settled one such claim in 2012. Crane denied the allegations.
The following Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences laureates have worked with Cato:
Since 2002, the Cato Institute has awarded the Milton Friedman Prize for Advancing Liberty every two years to "an individual who has made a significant contribution to advancing human freedom."The prize comes with a cash award of US$250,000.
|2002||Peter Thomas Bauer|
|2004||Hernando de Soto Polar|
|2018||Ladies in White|
As of 2019:
Notable scholars associated with Cato include the following:
The Cato Institute is an associate member of the State Policy Network, a U.S. national network of free-market oriented think tanks.
According to the 2017 Global Go To Think Tank Index Report (Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program, University of Pennsylvania), Cato is number 15 in the "Top Think Tanks Worldwide" and number 10 in the "Top Think Tanks in the United States".Other "Top Think Tank" rankings include # 13 (of 85) in Defense and National Security, #5 (of 80) in Domestic Economic Policy, #4 (of 55) in Education Policy, #17 (of 85) in Foreign Policy and International Affairs, #8 (of 30) in Domestic Health Policy, #14 (of 25) in Global Health Policy, #18 (of 80) in International Development, #14 (of 50) in International Economic Policy, #8 (of 50) in Social Policy, #8 (of 75) for Best Advocacy Campaign, #17 (of 60) for Best Think Tank Network, #3 (of 60) for best Use of Social Networks, #9 (of 50) for Best External Relations/Public Engagement Program, #2 (of 40) for Best Use of the Internet, #12 (of 40) for Best Use of Media, #5 (of 30) for Most Innovative Policy Ideas/Proposals, #11 (of 70) for the Most Significant Impact on Public Policy, and #9 (of 60) for Outstanding Policy-Oriented Public Programs. Cato also topped the 2014 list of the budget-adjusted ranking of international development think tanks.
The Koch family foundations are a group of charitable foundations in the United States associated with the family of Fred C. Koch. The most prominent of these are the Charles Koch Foundation and the David H. Koch Charitable Foundation, created by Charles Koch and David Koch, two sons of Fred C. Koch who own the majority of Koch Industries, an oil, gas, paper, and chemical conglomerate which is the US's second-largest privately held company. Charles' and David's foundations have provided millions of dollars to a variety of organizations, including libertarian and conservative think tanks. Areas of funding include think tanks, political advocacy, climate change skepticism, higher education scholarships, cancer research, arts, and science.
The Fraser Institute is a Canadian public policy think tank and registered charity. It has been described as politically conservative and libertarian. The institute is headquartered in Vancouver, with offices also located in Calgary, Toronto, and Montreal, and ties to a global network of 80 think-tanks through the Economic Freedom Network.
The Institute for Humane Studies (IHS) is a libertarian non-profit organization that engages with students and professors throughout the United States. IHS offers educational and career programs, holds seminars and on-campus programs for university students, awards scholarships, provides mentoring and research grants for aspiring professors, and sponsors a collection of online videos.
David Boaz is the executive vice president of the Cato Institute, an American libertarian think tank.
Tom Gordon Palmer is a libertarian author and theorist, a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute and Vice President for International Programs at the Atlas Network.
Edward Harrison Crane is an American libertarian and co-founder of the Cato Institute. He served as its president until October 1, 2012.
Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism has been and continues to be a major influence on the right-libertarian movement, particularly libertarianism in the United States. Many right-libertarians justify their political views using aspects of Objectivism.
Tibor Richard Machan was a Hungarian-American philosopher. A professor emeritus in the department of philosophy at Auburn University, Machan held the R. C. Hoiles Chair of Business Ethics and Free Enterprise at the Argyros School of Business & Economics at Chapman University in Orange, California until 31 December 2014.
Williamson M. "Bill" Evers is an American political activist and education researcher. In 1988, he became a resident scholar at Stanford University's Hoover Institution—first as a national fellow, then a visiting scholar, and most recently a research fellow there and at The Independent Institute. He went on leave from Hoover to serve as Assistant Secretary for the Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development in the United States Department of Education during 2007-2009. At the beginning of September 2016, he was selected to lead the "agency action team" for the Department of Education in the Trump-Pence transition.
Libertarianism in the United States is a political philosophy and movement promoting individual liberty. According to common meanings of conservatism and liberalism in the United States, libertarianism has been described as conservative on economic issues and liberal on personal freedom, often associated with a foreign policy of non-interventionism. Broadly, there are four principal traditions within libertarianism, namely the libertarianism that developed in the mid-20th century out of the revival tradition of classical liberalism in the United States after liberalism associated to the New Deal; the libertarianism developed in the 1950s by anarcho-capitalist author Murray Rothbard, who based it on the anti-New Deal Old Right and 19th-century libertarianism and American individualist anarchists such as Benjamin Tucker and Lysander Spooner while rejecting the labor theory of value in favor of Austrian School economics and the subjective theory of value; the libertarianism developed in the 1970s by Robert Nozick and founded in American and European classical liberal traditions; and the libertarianism associated to the Libertarian Party which was founded in 1971, including politicians such as David Nolan and Ron Paul.
Robert Higgs is an American economic historian and economist combining material from Public Choice, the New institutional economics, and the Austrian school of economics; and describes himself as a libertarian anarchist in political and legal theory and public policy. His writings in economics and economic history have most often focused on the causes, means, and effects of government power and growth.
William Arthur Niskanen was an American economist. He was one of the architects of President Ronald Reagan's economic program and contributed to public choice theory. He was also a long-time chairman of the Cato Institute, a libertarian think-tank.
Will Wilkinson is an American writer who currently serves as Vice President of Policy at the Niskanen Center. Until August 2010, he was a research fellow at the Cato Institute where he worked on a variety of issues including Social Security privatization and, most notably, the policy implications of happiness research. Wilkinson was also the managing editor of the Cato Institute's monthly web magazine, Cato Unbound. Previously, he was Academic Coordinator of the Social Change Project and the Global Prosperity Initiative at The Mercatus Center at George Mason University, and, before that, he ran the Social Change Workshop for Graduate Students for The Institute for Humane Studies. His political philosophy is described by The American Conservative magazine as "Rawlsekian"; that is, a mixture of John Rawls's principles and Friedrich von Hayek's methods. Wilkinson formerly described his political views as libertarian, but he now rejects that label.
Gene Healy is an American political pundit, journalist and editor. He serves as Vice President at the libertarian think tank Cato Institute, as well as a contributing editor to Liberty magazine.
The Koch family is an American family engaged in business, best known for their political activities and their control of Koch Industries, the second-largest privately owned company in the United States. The family business was started by Fred C. Koch, who developed a new cracking method for the refinement of heavy crude oil into gasoline. Fred's four sons litigated against each other over their interests in the business during the 1980s and 1990s.
The political activities of the Koch brothers include the financial and political influence of Charles G. and David H. Koch (1940–2019) on United States politics. This influence is seen both directly and indirectly via various political and public policy organizations that were supported by the Koch brothers.
Charles de Ganahl Koch is an American businessman and philanthropist. As of March 2019, he was ranked as the 11th-richest person in the world, with an estimated net worth of $50.5 billion. Koch has been co-owner, chairman, and chief executive officer of Koch Industries since 1967, while his late brother David Koch served as executive vice president. Charles and David each owned 42% of the conglomerate. The brothers inherited the business from their father, Fred C. Koch, then expanded the business. Originally involved exclusively in oil refining and chemicals, Koch Industries now includes process and pollution control equipment and technologies, polymers and fibers, minerals, fertilizers, commodity trading and services, forest and consumer products, and ranching. The businesses produce a wide variety of well-known brands, such as Stainmaster carpet, the Lycra brand of spandex fiber, Quilted Northern tissue, and Dixie Cup.
Ronald Hamowy was a Canadian academic, known primarily for his contributions to political and social academic fields. At the time of his death, he was professor emeritus of Intellectual History at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada. Hamowy was closely associated with the political ideology of libertarianism and his writings and scholarship place particular emphasis on individual liberty and the limits of state action in a free society. He is associated with a number of prominent American libertarian organizations.
Kevin Gentry is a conservative political activist and fundraiser who serves as vice president of the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation. A top aide to Charles Koch and David H. Koch, Gentry serves as vice president of special projects at Koch Industries.
The Niskanen Center is a Washington, D.C.-based think tank that advocates environmentalism, immigration reform, civil liberties, and strengthening social insurance based on market principles. The center is named after William A. Niskanen, an economic adviser to President Ronald Reagan. The Center states that its "main audience is Washington insiders," and characterizes itself as a moderate think tank.
No one can spend any time the newspapers, library inventories, and pamphlets of colonial America without realizing that Cato's Letters rather than John Locke's Civil Government was the most popular, quotable, esteemed source for political ideas in the colonial period.
file photo taken on November 30, 2006
Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke speaks at the Cato Institute's annual Monetary Conference ...