Cato Issues Handbook for Congress on Policy Reforms: Stresses Constitutional Limits on Federal Powers

January/​February 1995 • Policy Report

Since the election Cato has been busy arranging a suitable reception for the new Republican‐​controlled Congress. “Until now,” said president Edward H. Crane, “Cato has sought to move the United States toward free markets, individual liberty, and limited government by speaking to the country’s educated lay public. We will continue to do that. But the election of so many new members of Congress on a “less government, more freedom” platform provides an opportunity that must not be ignored. Over the next two years — years of potentially historic significance — Cato will be aggressively providing Congress with market‐​liberal ideas, proposals, and intellectual ammunition.”

The Cato Handbook for Congress, with more than 100 recommendations on domestic and international issues, is scheduled for release in February. The book will set out a solid market‐​liberal program, achievable within two years, aimed at rolling back the power of government and expanding individual freedom. Chapters by the Cato policy staff and outside contributors will address such issues as welfare, health care, the budget, taxes, education, term limits, Social Security, regulation, the military budget, NATO and other commitments, foreign aid, and free trade. To heighten Congress’s awareness of its responsibility for keeping the government within constitutional bounds, the handbook will stress the idea that the U.S. Constitution creates a national government of limited and enumerated powers. The Cato Handbook for Congress is being given to all members of Congress and is available for purchase for $25.00. Cato is also planning to hold a seminar for new members of Congress to give them a chance to become familiar with the Institute and to meet the policy staff.

In recent weeks newspapers and magazines have remarked that the Republicans swept to victory on the strength of the Cato message of, to quote the Wall Street Journal, “less government, more freedom.” The Journal, the Washington Post, and the Economist, among other publications, have noted that Cato’s voice has become, in the Journal’s words, “increasingly influential among GOP lawmakers.” Indeed, another Journal article — headlined “Cato Institute’s Influence Grows As Republican‐​Dominated Congress Sets Up Shop” — said, “When Cato takes aim at something, its shots tend to ricochet for a while.” Another Journal article compared 1994 with 1980: “The debate [in Washington] shows a larger change between the character of this election and the last great Republican surge, the Reagan landslide of 1980. Philosophically, that victory came to be symbolized by the Heritage Foundation, a conservative Washington think tank strong on business and foreign policy. By comparison, the ïless government, more freedom’ slogans this week echo the libertarian Cato Institute.” Post columnist E. J. Dionne Jr. wrote in December that Cato has a growing role “as a generator of ideas that find their way into the Republican legislative proposals and rhetoric.” Also taking notice of Cato’s rising influence, the Economist quoted Crane as saying, “The 20th century is a grand experiment in government, and it’s failed.”