Matthew Mitchell

Matthew Mitchell

  • Director of Project for the Study of American Capitalism
  • Senior Research Fellow

Matthew Mitchell is a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, where he is the program director for the Project for the Study of American Capitalism. He is also an adjunct professor of economics at Mason. In his writing and research, he specializes in economic freedom and economic growth, public-choice economics, and the economics of government favoritism toward particular businesses.

Mitchell has testified before the US Congress, and his articles have been featured in numerous national media outlets, including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, US News and World Report, National Public Radio, and C-SPAN. He blogs about economics and economic policy at Neighborhood Effects and served from August 2010 to June 2014 on the Joint Advisory Board of Economists for the Commonwealth of Virginia, helping to formulate revenue expectations.

Mitchell received his PhD and MA in economics from George Mason University and his BA in political science and BS in economics from Arizona State University.

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Published Research

Christopher Koopman, Matthew Mitchell, Adam Thierer | Dec 08, 2014
When market circumstances change dramatically—or when new technology or competition alleviates the need for regulation—then public policy should evolve and adapt to accommodate these realities. This paper concludes with some proposals for further research in this area, and a call for a more informed regulatory approach that accounts for the innovations of the sharing economy.
Matthew Mitchell | Feb 01, 2013
In the end, he endorses a “zero tolerance” approach to subsidies and tax loopholes while he is more comfortable with regulatory interventions. This is curious. The regulatory process is opaque and complex, arguably making the code of federal regu- lations an easier place to hide a targeted privilege than the federal budget or the tax code. But Zingales hasn’t enough time to dwell on such considerations; he has too many other interesting and creative ideas to consider.
Matthew Mitchell | Jan 10, 2013
Since at least the days of Adam Smith, economists have suspected that economic freedom was a necessary, if not sufficient, condition for human prosperity. Smith wrote of freedom as a “system of natural liberty” and declared that “Little else is requisite to carry a state to the highest degree of opulence from the lowest barbarism but peace, easy taxes, and a tolerable administration of justice.”…
Matthew Mitchell, Andrea Castillo | Nov 28, 2012
Critics of the Bush tax cuts often dismiss the tax changes as a failed experiment in free-market economics. Noting that economic growth was slower in the years following the cuts than in the years preceding them, some critics see the experience as evidence that tax cuts simply do not work. But the claim that these tax cuts exemplified free-market economic thinking is baseless.

Working Papers

Matthew Mitchell, Pavel A. Yakovlev | May 13, 2015
A new study for the Mercatus Center at George Mason University shows that differences in these rules can have significant effects on policy. The study finds that states with separate taxing and spending committees spend less per capita than other states. Voters concerned about the growth of government may want to take a closer look at this phenomenon.
Matthew Mitchell, Thomas Stratmann | Jan 23, 2012
In this working paper, the authors find that wireless tax rates increase with the number of overlapping tax bases.
Matthew Mitchell, Nick Tuszynski | Oct 03, 2011
This paper summarizes the empirical investigations of sixteen state-level institutions. The lesson for both state and federal policy makers is that there are a number of institutional reforms that seem likely to put spending on a more sustainable path.
Veronique de Rugy, Matthew Mitchell | Sep 12, 2011
Four years into the deepest recession since World War II, the U.S. economy expanded at a rate of only 0.7 percent in the first half of 2011. This means that the economy is growing at a slower pace than the population and that capita output continues to fall. In response, the president has announced a plan for yet more deficit-financed stimulus spending.

Charts

Matthew Mitchell, Christopher Koopman | Oct 14, 2014
Currently, 35 states and the District of Columbia prohibit entry or expansion of healthcare facilities through “certificate-of-need” (CON) programs. These laws, which require government permission before a facility can expand, offer a new service, or purchase certain pieces of equipment, were enacted in the belief that restricting entry would lower health care costs and increase availability of these services to the poor.
Matthew Mitchell | May 15, 2014
One way to “internalize the externality” is to require those who benefit from current government services to pay for them. This could be accomplished by a balanced budget requirement.
Matthew Mitchell | Mar 26, 2014
This week’s chart shows the average aggregate contributions that members of Congress received from agribusiness PACs in each of the last three quarters of 2013. The data are separated by members’ votes on the final bill.  …
Matthew Mitchell | Jan 23, 2014
In his latest Mercatus on Policy essay, economist Matthew Mitchell makes the case that current US farm policy is neither equitable nor efficient. Both conservatives who value free markets and liberals who value social justice should be clamoring for reform.
Matthew Mitchell | Jul 23, 2012
One of the things holding productivity back and, along with it, compensation, is rent-seeking. When governments dispense privileges to particular firms, entrepreneurs spend their time asking politicians for those privileges instead of devising new ways to create value for customers. Economists call this activity rent-seeking, and research suggests that it depresses productivity growth.
Matthew Mitchell | Jul 08, 2012
While the bailouts of hundreds of firms in 2008 are, for many, the most prominent example of cronyism in modern American history, they are only the tip of the iceberg. Bailouts are but one example in a long list of privileges that governments give to particular businesses and industries.
Matthew Mitchell | Jun 11, 2012
State and local governments depend on the private sector for their survival. Almost every dollar that these governments spend is either borrowed or taxed from the private economy. Yet, for more than half a century, these governments have continuously outpaced the growth of the private sector on which they depend.
Matthew Mitchell, Nick Tuszynski | Oct 10, 2011
This week’s chart by shows that many institutions are associated with lower per-capita spending.

Policy Briefs

Matthew Mitchell, Anna Mills, Dana Williams | Jan 15, 2015
In this paper we discuss three ways that states can benefit patients by making their health care markets more competitive: they can abolish certificate-of-need laws, liberalize scope-of-practice regulations, and remove barriers to telemedicine.
Christopher Koopman, Matthew Mitchell, Emily Washington | Sep 30, 2014
A lame duck session of Congress occurs when legislators meet after an election has been held but before the next Congress has taken office. Lame duck sessions are often criticized by the victorious party in the election, and a common critique is that the lame duck members—undisciplined by electoral constraints—vote irresponsibly. There are subtle but statistically significant differences between voting patterns in regular and lame duck sessions, as revealed by analysis of over 50,000 House and Senate roll call votes.
Matthew Mitchell, Christopher Koopman | Jun 04, 2014
Instead, policymakers should focus on more direct, effective, and less problematic solutions to reduce the tangle of regulatory burdens encountered by craft brewers. Eliminating regulatory burdens for all firms would allow brewers to succeed or fail on the basis of their ability to provide the greatest value to consumers at the lowest cost to society.
Matthew Mitchell | Jan 06, 2014
In recent years, food stamps have constituted about 80 percent of farm bill spending, which may be why nearly 100 percent of public debate has focused there. Unfortunately, with all of the attention on food stamps, both political parties have missed the opportunity for reform that lies in the remaining 20 percent of the farm bill.

Testimony & Comments

Research Summaries & Toolkits

Expert Commentary

Mar 18, 2015

The Supreme Court recently heard oral arguments in King v. Burwell, another case involving the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. "Obamacare"). If the Court decides that the law's words mean what they say, then federal subsidies for individuals will be available only in states that have established insurance exchanges. For those who live in the 36+ states that have chosen not to set up their own exchanges, this presents a problem.
Feb 13, 2015

Repealing the medical device tax, which is a targeted and discriminatory tax, does not constitute a special interest favor. The medical device industry provides life-saving products to people who need them, and should not be imposed with what is the equivalent of sin tax. The industry currently has to pass through multiple regulatory hurdles that other industries do not. Repealing the medical device tax would therefore be a return to a more level and equitable playing field.
Feb 03, 2015

Ours is not a country where everyone plays by the same set of economic rules. Many longstanding federal and state policies privilege some businesses and not others. This tilted playing field isn’t just unfair; it’s grossly inefficient. It undermines competition, discourages innovation, and prompts businesses to expend billions of dollars in socially wasteful efforts to win the favor of politicians. But it need not be this way.
Jan 28, 2015

President Barack Obama recently extolled the virtues of what he called "middle-class economics" or "the idea that this country does best when everyone gets their fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules." The president is on to something.
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