Cato University for Capitol Hill

August 21, 2013 10:00 AM to 6:30 PM EDT

Policy Center with Foyer

Featuring Laura Odato, Director of Government Affairs; Trevor Burrus, Research Fellow, Center for Constitutional Studies; Benjamin Friedman, Research Fellow in Defense and Homeland Security Studies; Mark Calabria, Director of Financial Regulation Studies; Dan Mitchell, Senior Fellow; Peter Van Doren, Senior Fellow; Alex Nowrasteh, Immigration Policy Analyst, Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity; and Julian Sanchez, Research Fellow.

Join the conversation on Twitter using #CatoEvents. Follow @CatoEvents on Twitter to get future event updates, live streams, and videos from the Cato Institute. If you have questions or need assistance registering for the event, please email our staff at events@​cato.​org.

Cato University for Capitol Hill is a program designed for Capitol Hill staffers with an interest in liberty, and all full‐​time staff are welcome to attend. The program will feature talks by Cato scholars designed to emphasize a better understanding of the importance of a free society, approaching public policy issues from a limited‐​government perspective, and maintaining a small‐​government philosophy in a big‐​government town.

9:45 a.m. Registration
10:00 – 10:10 a.m.


Laura Odato, Director of Government Affairs

10:10 – 10:50 a.m.

The Collapse of the American Criminal Justice System

America leads the world in incarceration, and our imprisonment rate has skyrocketed even as crime rates have dropped precipitously. Much of this trend can be traced to policies that imprison non‐​violent offenders more often and for longer terms. This shameful and often ignored fact has profound impacts, not only on race relations, but also on our country’s character. This talk will not only detail the effects of these policies but also discuss helpful changes.

Trevor Burrus, Research Fellow, Center for Constitutional Studies

10:50 – 11:30 a.m.

Austerity, Drones, and Whimsical Wars

Budgetary austerity and war weariness today limit U.S. military actions and spending, yet U.S. forces still ring the world in defense of wealthy allies. Special operations forces and drones attack targets in various nations. U.S. airpower helped overthrow the Libyan government, with only mild attention from the Congress and public, and may yet be used against Syria’s. This military strategy is overbroad and overly expensive — its costs are more than meets the eye. This talk discusses what might be done to improve U.S. military strategy, focusing particularly on how Congress can restrain it.

Benjamin Friedman, Research Fellow in Defense and Homeland Security Studies

11:30 a.m. – 12:10 p.m.

Financial Crises: Causes & Cures

The recent financial crisis has sometimes been painted as a 100‐​year flood, something “out of the ordinary.” Crises have, however, been both frequent and costly. This session will take a step back from the recent U.S. crisis and look at some of the general features of global financial crises. What do they have in common and what policies might best help to avoid them?

Mark Calabria, Director of Financial Regulation Studies

12:10 – 1:20 p.m.


1:25 – 2:05 p.m.

All You Need to Know about Fiscal Policy

This session will focus on the economic impact of taxes, spending, and deficits, including analysis of how entitlement spending threatens to cause a Greek‐​style fiscal crisis.

Dan Mitchell, Senior Fellow

2:05 – 3:10 p.m.

Public Choice

Public choice is a subfield of economics that examines the collective choices of government using the same toolkit that economists use to study the decisions of individuals in markets. This session will review the formal properties of majority rule as a method of aggregating individual preferences for taxes and public goods into collective decisions, and will also examine the decisions confronting legislators as they face competing demands.

Peter Van Doren, Senior Fellow

3:10 – 3:50 p.m.

The Costs and Benefits of Liberalizing Immigration

Liberalized immigration policies impose both costs and benefits on the economy, but while the costs are often exaggerated the benefits are largely ignored or minimized. Using the tools of economics and drawing upon America’s deep history and current experience with immigration, this session will review the costs and benefits of increasing lawful immigration by examining its major criticisms.

Alex Nowrasteh, Immigration Policy Analyst, Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity

3:50 – 4:30 p.m.

A Brief Tour of the Surveillance State

The past decade has seen an unprecedented expansion of government surveillance capabilities — the result of both sweeping legal reforms enacted in the name of counterterrorism and new technologies for monitoring and analysis. This session will explore the long and continuing struggle to balance the government’s legitimate intelligence needs against fundamental civil liberties — from the Cold War era to the War on Terror, and from COINTELPRO to newly disclosed NSA surveillance programs.

Julian Sanchez, Research Fellow

4:30 – 6:30 p.m.

Congressional Staff Happy Hour