HistoryThe institute was founded in December 1974 in , as the ''Charles Koch Foundation'' and initially funded by Charles Koch.Koch is chairman of the board and chief executive officer of the conglomerate Koch Industries, the second largest privately held company by revenue in the United States. The other members of the first board of directors included co-founder , 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 (writer), John Trenchard and Thomas Gordon (writer), 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, Washington, D.C., Capitol Hill. The institute moved to its current location on Massachusetts Avenue (Washington, D.C.), 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 , 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 Crane's 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".
ActivitiesVarious Cato programs were favorably ranked in a survey published by the in 2012.
PublicationsThe Cato Institute publishes numerous policy studies, briefing papers, periodicals, and books. Peer-reviewed academic journals include the ''Cato Journal'' and ''Regulation''. Other periodicals include ''Cato's Letter'', ''Cato Supreme Court Review'', and ''Cato Policy Report''. Cato published ''Inquiry (magazine), Inquiry Magazine'' from 1977 to 1982 (before transferring it to the Libertarian Review, 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: * ''Human Freedom Index'' * ''In Defense of Global Capitalism'' * ''The Improving State of the World'' * ''Restoring the Lost Constitution''
Web projectsIn addition to maintaining its own website in English and Spanish, Cato maintains websites focused on particular topics: * "Downsizing the Federal Government" contains essays on the size of the U.S. federal government and recommendations for decreasing various programs. * Libertarianism.org is a website focused on the theory and practice of libertarianism. * ''Cato Unbound'', a web-only publication that features a monthly open debate among four people. The conversation begins with one lead essay, followed by three response essays by separate people. After that, all four participants can write as many responses and counter-responses as they want for the duration of that month. * PoliceMisconduct.net contains reports and stories from Cato's National Police Misconduct Reporting Project and the National Police Misconduct News Feed. * Overlawyered is a law blog on the subject of tort reform run by author Walter Olson. * HumanProgress.org is an interactive data web project that catalogs increases in prosperity driven by the free market. * "Public Schooling Battle Map" illustrates different moral conflicts that result from public schooling. * UnlawfulShield.com is dedicated to abolishing Qualified_immunity, Qualified Immunity. * FreedomInthe50States.org ranks states by policies that shape personal and economic freedom. Social media sponsored by Cato includes "Daily Podcasts" (through ITunes Store#Podcasts, iTunes and RSS feeds), plus pages on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and YouTube.
ConferencesThe Cato Institute hosts conferences throughout the year. Topics include monetary policy, the U.S. Constitution, poverty and social welfare, technology and privacy, financial regulation, and civic culture. Speakers at past Cato Institute conferences have included Federal Reserve Chairmen Alan Greenspan and Ben Bernanke, Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Richard Clarida, International Monetary Fund Managing Director Rodrigo de Rato, Czech Republic President Václav Klaus, and Avanti Financial Group Founder and CEO Caitlin Long.
Libertarianism, classical liberalism, and conservatismMany Cato scholars have advocated 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". On the other hand, Cato has strong ties to the political philosophy of classical liberalism. According to executive vice president David Boaz, libertarians are classical liberals who strongly emphasize the individual right to liberty. He argues that, as the term "liberalism" became increasingly associated with government intervention in the economy and social-welfare programs, some classical liberals abandoned the old term and began to call themselves “libertarians”. Officially, Cato admits that the term “classical liberal” comes close to the mark of labeling its position, but fails to capture the contemporary vibrancy of the ideas of freedom. According to Cato's mission statement, 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. 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 democracy, Jeffersonian philosophy". Some Cato scholars disagree with conservatives on neo-conservative foreign policy, albeit that this has not always been uniform.
ObjectivismThe 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.
Cato positions on political issues and policiesThe 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."
On domestic issuesCato scholars have consistently called for the privatization of many government services and institutions, including NASA, , the , 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 trade union, 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 in the United States, 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 Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement, 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. In 2006, the Cato Institute published a study proposing a Balanced Budget Veto#United States, Veto United States Constitution#Amendments, Amendment to the United States Constitution. In 2003, Cato filed an Amicus curiae, 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 Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, 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. A 2006 Cato report by Radley Balko strongly criticized U.S. drug policy and the perceived growing militarization of U.S. law enforcement.
Criticism of corporate welfareIn 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 (environmentalist), 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 Policy Act of 2005, Energy Bill as a give-away to corporate interests.
On copyright issuesA 2006 study criticized the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
On foreign policyCato'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), President Bill Clinton's interventions in Operation Uphold Democracy, Haiti and 1999 NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, 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 War in Afghanistan (2001–present), 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.
On environmental policyCato 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 "cherrypicking, data selection". A December 2003 Cato panel included Patrick Michaels, Robert Balling and John Christy. Michaels, Balling and Christy agreed that global warming is related at least some degree to Human impact on the environment, human activity but that some scientists and the media have overstated the danger. The Cato Institute has also criticized political attempts to stop global warming as expensive and ineffective: 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#Eminent domain, "Takings Clause" of the United States Constitution and environmental protection, libertarians associated with Cato contended in 2003 that the Constitution is not adequate to guarantee the protection of private property rights. In 2019, Cato closed its "Center for the Study of Science" (which Environment & Energy Publishing, E&E News characterized as "a program that for years sought to raise uncertainty about climate science") after its head Pat Michaels had left the institute over disagreements, along with his collaborator Ryan Maue, a meteorologist. By that time, the Cato Institute was also no longer affiliated with its former distinguished fellow Richard Lindzen, another critic of the scientific consensus on climate change.
Other commentaries on presidential administrationsCato scholars were critical of George W. Bush's Republican Party (United States), 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, , global warming, tax policy, and Guest worker program, immigration.Cato's link
Funding, tax status, and corporate structureThe 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 detailsFunding details as of Fiscal year, FYE March 2020: Net assets as of FYE March 2020: $81,391,000.
Shareholder dispute and departure of Ed CraneAccording to an agreement signed in 1977, there were to be four shareholders of the Cato Institute. They were Charles Koch, Charles and David Koch, Ed Crane, and William A. Niskanen. Niskanen died in October 2011.''Kochs launch court fight over Cato''
Associates in the news* Cato senior fellow Robert A. Levy personally funded the plaintiffs' successful Supreme Court challenge to the District of Columbia's gun ban (''District of Columbia v. Heller''), on the basis of the Second Amendment. * In January 2008, Dom Armentano wrote an op-ed piece about UFOs and classified government data in the ''Vero Beach Press-Journal''. Cato Executive Vice President David Boaz wrote that "I won't deny that this latest op-ed played a role in our decision..." to drop Armentano as a Cato adjunct scholar.
Recipients of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences at CatoThe following recipients of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences have worked with Cato: * Gary S. Becker * James M. Buchanan * Ronald Coase * Milton Friedman * Friedrich Hayek * Robert Mundell * Douglass C. North * Edward C. Prescott * Thomas C. Schelling * Vernon L. Smith * George J. Stigler * Richard H. Thaler
Milton Friedman PrizeSince 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.
Board of directorsAs of 2019: * John A. Allison IV, former president and CEO, Cato Institute; retired chairman and CEO, BB&T * Baron Bond, executive vice president, The Foundation Group LLC * Miss Missouri USA, Rebecca Dunn, Trustee, DUNN Foundation * Robert Gelfond, CEO and founder, MQS Management * Peter N. Goettler, president and CEO, Cato Institute; former managing director, Barclays Investment Bank, Barclays Capital * David C. Humphreys, president & CEO, TAMKO Building Products, Inc. * James M. Kilts, partner, Centerview Partners, Centerview Capital Holdings; former CEO, The Gillette Company * James M. Lapeyre, Jr., president, Laitram, LLC * Ken Levy, Levy Family Fund * Robert A. Levy, chairman, Cato Institute * Nancy Pfotenhauer, President and CEO, MediaSpeak Strategies * Lewis E. Randall, former director, E-Trade, E-Trade Financial Corporation * Howard Rich, chairman, U.S. Term Limits * Nestor R. Weigand, Jr., chairman and CEO, JP Weigand & Sons, Inc. * Jeff Yass, Jeffrey S. Yass, managing director, Susquehanna International Group, Susquehana International Group, LLP * Fred Young (businessman), Fred Young, former owner, Young Radiator Company
Notable Cato expertsNotable scholars associated with Cato include the following:
Policy scholars* Swaminathan Aiyar, research fellow, Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity * Doug Bandow, senior fellow * Jason Bedrick, policy analyst * David Boaz, executive vice president * Mark A. Calabria, director of financial regulation studies * Ed Crane (political activist), Edward H. Crane, founder and president emeritus * Steve H. Hanke, senior fellow and director, Troubled Currencies Project * Gene Healy, vice president * Nat Hentoff, senior fellow * Andrei Illarionov, senior fellow, Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity * Brink Lindsey, vice president for research * Patrick J. Michaels, director, Center for the Study of Science * Jeffrey A. Miron, senior fellow * Daniel J. Mitchell, senior fellow * John Mueller, senior fellow * William A. Niskanen, chairman and distinguished senior economist * Johan Norberg, senior fellow * Alex Nowrasteh, immigration policy analyst * Walter Olson, senior fellow * Randal O'Toole, senior fellow * Tom G. Palmer, senior fellow and director of Cato University * Roger Pilon, vice president for legal affairs * José Piñera, co-chairman, Project on Social Security Choice * William Poole (economist), William Poole, senior fellow * Alan Reynolds (economist), Alan Reynolds, senior fellow * Nicholas Quinn Rosenkranz, senior fellow in constitutional studies * Julian Sanchez (writer), Julian Sanchez, senior fellow
Adjunct scholars* Patrick Basham (Democracy Institute) * David Bernstein (law professor), David E. Bernstein (George Mason University School of Law) * Donald J. Boudreaux (George Mason University) * Robert L. Bradley, Jr. (Institute for Energy Research) * Bryan Caplan (George Mason University) * John H. Cochrane (University of Chicago Booth School of Business) * Robert Corn-Revere (Davis Wright Tremaine) * Tyler Cowen (George Mason University) * Kevin Dowd (University of Nottingham) * Richard Allen Epstein, Richard A. Epstein (New York University School of Law) * Alex Epstein (American writer), Alex Epstein (Center for Industrial Progress) * Enrique Ghersi (University of Lima) * Robert Higgs (The Independent Institute) * Daniel B. Klein (George Mason University) * Arnold Kling (George Mason University) * Chandran Kukathas (London School of Economics) * Loren Lomasky (University of Virginia) * Jonathan R. Macey (Yale Law School) * Tibor R. Machan (Auburn University and Chapman University, Argyros School of Business and Economics) * Michael Munger (Duke University) * David G. Post (Temple University Beasley School of Law) * Alvin Rabushka (Hoover Institution) * Harvey A. Silverglate, Harvey Silverglate (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education) * Ilya Somin (George Mason University School of Law) * Richard L. Stroup (The Independent Institute) * James Tooley (Newcastle University) * Lawrence H. White (George Mason University) * Glen Whitman (Royal Society) * Walter E. Williams (George Mason University) * Leland B. Yeager (Auburn University and University of Virginia)
Fellows* Radley Balko, media fellow * Randy Barnett, Randy E. Barnett, senior fellow * James M. Buchanan (1919–2013) * Vladimir Bukovsky, senior fellow * F. A. Hayek (1899–1992) * Penn Jillette, H.L. Mencken research fellow * Václav Klaus, distinguished senior fellow * Deepak Lal, senior fellow * Christopher Layne, visiting fellow in foreign policy studies * Jeffrey Milyo, senior fellow * P. J. O'Rourke, H.L. Mencken research fellow * Jim Powell (historian), Jim Powell, senior fellow * Richard W. Rahn, senior fellow * George Selgin, senior fellow * Vernon L. Smith, senior fellow * Teller (magician), Teller, H.L. Mencken research fellow * Cathy Young, media fellow
AffiliationsThe Cato Institute is an associate member of the State Policy Network, a U.S. national network of free-market oriented think tanks.
RankingsAccording to the ''2017 Global Go To Think Tank Index Report'' ( Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program, ), 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.
See also* American Enterprise Institute * Brookings Institution * The Heartland Institute * Reason Foundation