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Matthew D. Mitchell



Articles by Matthew D. Mitchell

Wisconsin Occupational Licensing: Barriers to Opportunity and Prospects for Reform

21 days ago

Chair Kapenga, Vice Chair Craig, and distinguished members of the committee:
My name is Matthew Mitchell. I am an economist and a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, where I direct the Equity Initiative. Mercatus scholars working on the Equity Initiative study public policies that favor particular firms, industries, or occupations. In recent years, my colleagues and I have been studying occupational licensing laws, and I am grateful for the opportunity to discuss our findings with you.
Attached is a report that my colleagues and I submitted to the Federal Trade Commission, “The Effects of Occupational Licensure on Competition, Consumers, and the Workforce.” The report details the now-voluminous economic literature on the deleterious effects of

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Tennessee's Certificate-of-Need Program: Lessons from Research

November 7, 2019

Representative Sexton, Senator Watson, and distinguished members of the working group:
My name is Matthew Mitchell. I am an economist at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, where I am an adjunct professor of economics. In recent years, my colleagues and I have been studying certificate-of-need (CON) laws in healthcare. I am grateful for the opportunity to discuss our findings with you today.
Introduction to CON Laws
CON laws require healthcare providers wishing to open or expand a healthcare facility to first prove to a regulatory body that their community needs the services the facility would provide. The regulations are typically not designed to assess a provider’s qualifications or safety record. Other regulations such as occupational licensing aim to do that. Instead, CON

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Alaska's CON Law

November 7, 2019

Matthew Mitchell testified before the Health and Social Services Committee of the Alaska State Senate at its March 27th meeting. In his presentation he explained that research shows that certificate-of-need (CON) laws have worked largely as economic theory predicts. They have limited access to healthcare, especially in rural communities, and failed to achieve their stated goal of cost reduction. There is also evidence that CON laws are associated with lower-quality care and have failed to encourage hospital substitutes.

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Florida's CON Law

November 7, 2019

Matthew Mitchell testified before the Health Market Reform Subcommittee of the Florida House of Representatives at its February 6th meeting. In his presentation he explained that research shows certificate-of-need (CON) laws have worked largely as economic theory predicts. They have limited access to healthcare and failed to achieve their stated goal of cost reduction. There is also evidence that CON laws are associated with lower-quality care and have failed to encourage hospital substitutes.

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What Does the Public Think About Markets, About Government, and About Corporate Favoritism?

October 4, 2019

Last March, my colleagues and I published “A Culture of Favoritism: Corporate Privilege and Beliefs about Markets and Government.” Using data gleaned from a public opinion survey of 500 American business leaders, the study explored those leaders’ experience with and perceptions of government favoritism.
This week I released a short follow-up paper that presents some additional data derived from a wider sample including 500 additional respondents. These are folks who, when surveyed, were not necessarily business leaders and therefore were left out of the original study. In contrast with “A Culture of Favoritism,” this new paper eschews regression analysis and presents the raw descriptive data in an attempt to offer easily interpretable results.
For those who consider themselves free market

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Public Perceptions of Markets, Government, and Favoritism

October 1, 2019

In March of 2019, the Mercatus Center at George Mason University published “A Culture of Favoritism: Corporate Privilege and Beliefs about Markets and Government.” Using data gleaned from a public opinion survey of 500 American business leaders, the study explored those business leaders’ experience with and perceptions of government favoritism. In this short paper, I present some additional data derived from a wider sample that includes 500 additional respondents who, when surveyed, were not necessarily business leaders.
Some results from this wider sample mirror those from the business leader study. For example, as with business leaders, respondents generally support free markets in the abstract, but they are less inclined to favor marginal increases in market freedom. The population is

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California Occupational Licensing

August 13, 2019

Chair Allen, Chair Glazer, and distinguished members of the Senate Select Committee on Aerospace and Defense and the Senate Standing Committee on Business, Professions, and Economic Development:
My name is Matthew Mitchell. I am an economist and a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, where I direct the Equity Initiative. Mercatus scholars working on the Equity Initiative study public policies that favor particular firms, industries, or occupations. In recent years, my colleagues and I have been studying occupational licensing laws, and I am grateful for the opportunity to discuss our findings with you.
Attached is a report that my colleagues and I submitted to the Federal Trade Commission, “The Effects of Occupational Licensure on Competition,

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A Culture of Favoritism

March 27, 2019

Government favoritism toward particular firms comes in many forms, such as direct loans, subsidies, bailouts, tax breaks, government-created monopoly, regulatory barriers to domestic competition, and tariffs or quotas on foreign competition. Such practices waste resources, stunt economic growth, encourage corruption, and violate standard notions of justice. They also confuse pro-market policies with pro–favored business policies.
What do those who benefit from government favoritism believe about favoritism? How do they view the role of the government and competition in the economy? Matthew D. Mitchell addresses these issues in A Culture of Favoritism: Corporate Privilege and Beliefs about Markets and Government.
Assessing the Mindset of Favored Firms
Mitchell worked with a public

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Arizona Occupational Licensing: Barriers to Opportunity in the Grand Canyon State

March 21, 2019

Chair Ugenti-Rita, Vice Chair Pace, and distinguished members of the Senate Commerce Committee:
My name is Matthew Mitchell. I am an economist and a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, where I direct the Equity Initiative. Mercatus scholars working on the Equity Initiative study public policies that favor particular firms, industries, or occupations. In recent years, my colleagues and I have been studying occupational licensing laws, and I am grateful for the opportunity to discuss our findings with you.
Attached is a report that my colleagues and I submitted to the Federal Trade Commission, “The Effects of Occupational Licensure on Competition, Consumers, and the Workforce.” The report details the now-voluminous economic literature on the deleterious

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Colorado Occupational Licensing: Barriers to Opportunity in the Centennial State

February 13, 2019

Chair Kraft-Tharp, Vice-Chair Coleman, and distinguished members of the House Committee on Business Affairs and Labor:
My name is Matthew Mitchell. I am an economist and a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, where I direct the Equity Initiative. Mercatus scholars working on the Equity Initiative study public policies that favor particular firms, industries, or occupations. In recent years, my colleagues and I have been studying occupational licensing laws, and I am grateful for the opportunity to discuss our findings with you.
Attached is a report that my colleagues and I submitted to the Federal Trade Commission, “The Effects of Occupational Licensure on Competition, Consumers, and the Workforce.” The report details the now-voluminous economic

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Opposition to Amazon Subsidies Spans the Political Spectrum

December 4, 2018

By the conventional, unidimensional view of politics, I am about as far away as one can get from Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.).
She is an avowed socialist; I believe socialism was one of the most disastrous experiments in human history. She supports single-payer health care; I’d like to see a wall of separation between government and health care.
While she supports higher taxes, more significant regulation and greater government spending, I believe that three decades of peer-reviewed research on economic freedom suggests that we need more, not less, of it.
But not all political positions fall neatly into a single…
Continue reading: Opposition to Amazon Subsidies Spans the Political Spectrum
Photo credit: Getty Images

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Ohio Occupational Licensing: Barriers to Opportunity in the Buckeye State

November 27, 2018

Chair Roegner, Vice Chair Becker, Ranking Member Leland, and distinguished members of the House Federalism and Interstate Relations Committee:
My name is Matthew Mitchell. I am an economist and a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, where I direct the Equity Initiative. Mercatus scholars working on the Equity Initiative study public policies that favor particular firms, industries, or occupations. In recent years, my colleagues and I have been studying occupational licensing laws, and I am grateful for the opportunity to discuss our findings with you.
Attached is a report that my colleagues and I recently submitted to the Federal Trade Commission, “The Effects of Occupational Licensure on Competition, Consumers, and the Workforce.” The report details

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Texas Occupational Licensing: Barriers to Opportunity in the Lone Star State

August 29, 2018

Chairman Hancock, Vice Chairman Creighton, and distinguished members of the Senate Business and Commerce Committee:
My name is Matthew Mitchell. I am an economist and a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, where I direct the Equity Initiative. In recent years, my colleagues and I have been studying occupational licensing laws, and I am grateful for the opportunity to discuss our findings with you.
Attached is a report that my colleagues and I recently submitted to the Federal Trade Commission, “The Effects of Occupational Licensure on Competition, Consumers, and the Workforce.” The report details the now-voluminous economic literature on the deleterious effects of occupational licensure and suggests a blueprint for reform.
In my testimony, I wish to

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Who Opposes Sports Betting?

May 17, 2018

This week the Supreme Court ruled in favor of an issue that seems to be nearing a tipping point in terms of public acceptance: sports betting. But will it be enough to overcome staunch opposition from those who stand to lose the most? Time will tell.
Back in 2011, New Jersey voters overwhelmingly approved an amendment to their state constitution to allow sports betting in the Garden State and the following year, then-Gov. Chris Christie signed a law permitting the practice. In doing so, he challenged anyone to "try to stop us."
The federal government and professional sports leagues tried to stop him.
They cited a 1992 federal statute, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), which made it illegal for states other than Nevada to sponsor or permit sports betting. But in a

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Virginia’s Certificate-of-Public-Need Law

April 19, 2018

Chairman Orrock, Vice Chairman Garrett, and distinguished members of the House of Delegates Health, Welfare, and Institutions Committee:
My name is Matthew Mitchell. I am an economist at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University where I am an adjunct professor of economics. In recent years, my colleagues and I have been studying certificate-of-need laws in healthcare. I am grateful for the opportunity to discuss our findings with you today.
Introduction to CON Laws
Certificate-of-need (CON) laws—or certificate-of-public-need (COPN) laws, as they are called in Virginia—require healthcare providers wishing to open or expand a healthcare facility to first prove to a regulatory body that their community needs the services the facility would provide. The regulations are typically not

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Consumers, Not Presidents, Should Choose Between Amazon and Main Street

March 29, 2018

President Trump laments that Amazon is “putting many thousands of retailers out of business.” Setting aside the fact that the data don’t exactly support the President’s claim, it is not clear what the president wants to do about Amazon. He presumably thinks they shouldn’t be allowed to out-compete other retailers.
This would not only override the choices of consumers, it would privilege certain business models at the expense of others. What he seems not to understand is that dynamic and equitable competition is what made the American economy great in the first place. In a society that permits permissionless innovation, businesses must constantly adapt and change to serve the interests of consumers. Societies that embrace this change thrive. Those that don’t stagnate.  
Mr. Trump may not

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Alaska's Certificate-of-Need Law

February 6, 2018

Chairwoman Costello and distinguished members of the Senate Labor and Commerce Committee:
My name is Matthew Mitchell. I am an economist at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, where I am an adjunct professor of economics. In recent years, my colleagues and I have been studying certificate-of-need laws in healthcare. I am grateful for the opportunity to discuss our findings with you today.
More than four decades ago, Congress passed and President Ford signed the National Health Planning and Resources Development Act of 1974. The statute enabled the federal government to withhold federal funds from states that failed to adopt certificate-of-need (CON) regulations in healthcare. CON laws require healthcare providers wishing to open or expand a healthcare facility to first prove to

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Occupational Licensing and the Poor and Disadvantaged

September 28, 2017

Nearly one-third of American workers need government permission to do their jobs. Many of these workers earn below-average incomes, and their jobs are an important part of their self-sufficiency and upward economic mobility. For many of these workers, however, onerous licensing requirements stand in their way. While licenses may be intended to prevent poor-quality service or to protect public health and safety, the evidence suggests that they do not provide those benefits.
Occupational licensing raises the cost of goods and services, and often hurts those who simply want to find meaningful employment. Licensing is especially harmful to those who are excluded from these licensed professions, inhibiting their ability to improve their lives and support their families.
Licensing Restricts

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Freedom Might Well Flourish Even If Conservatives Don’t

May 22, 2017

Samuel Goldman has written a wide-ranging and thought-provoking Liberty Forum essay on the current sorry state of American conservatism. This sorry state is especially sorry for those of us who, like Dr. Goldman, believe that classical liberalism is the best part of American conservatism. It is an assessment, he says in conclusion, which he hopes “to be wrong about.”
At the risk of disappointing the good professor, I will not endeavor here to prove him wrong. I will, however, try to cheer him up. For I do not think that the sorry state of the American Right necessarily portends extinction, or even a prolonged sickness, for classical liberalism. I suspect that the best days of classical liberal ideas—and, even more so, classical liberal policies—lie ahead. But before I state my case, let me

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Trump Still Has a Chance to Strike a Blow against Special Interests

May 3, 2017

President Trump recently announced his intention to nominate former U.S. Representative Scott Garrett (R-N.J.) to head the Export-Import (Ex-Im) Bank. Garrett is a fierce critic of the bank, noting in 2015 that it “rewards those with close relationships with Washington bureaucrats,” and “for the sake of the American taxpayer and the preservation of the free enterprise system, Congress should put the Export-Import Bank out of business.”
But if the past is prelude, Garrett will soon change his tune.
Special interests like Ex-Im are the perennial antiheroes of political theater. Like all useful villains, they are shadowy, menacing and never quite go away.
Office-seekers are right to blame special interests for many of our nation’s ills. When like-minded interests consolidate resources and power, they become quite good at obtaining privileges — subsidies, special tax breaks and regulatory protections — from Washington.
These favors end up costing the rest of us. They undermine competition, raise prices and depress the quality of the goods and services we rely on. They lock in inefficient technologies and outdated business models. They direct talent and resources toward politically favored activities and away from consumer-favored activities. Above all, they undermine the legitimacy of both government and the market.

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Certificate-of-Need Laws

April 17, 2017

More than four decades ago, Congress passed and President Ford signed the National Health Planning and Resources Development Act of 1974. The act withheld federal funds from states that failed to adopt certificate-of-need (CON) laws regulating healthcare facilities. CON laws require healthcare providers wishing to open or expand a healthcare facility to first prove to a regulatory body that the community needs the planned services. New York had enacted the first CON program in 1964, a full decade before the federal government began encouraging other states to follow suit, and by the early 1980s every state except Louisiana had implemented some version of a CON program. Policymakers hoped these programs would restrain healthcare costs, increase healthcare quality, and improve access to care for poor and underserved communities.
In 1986—as evidence mounted that CON laws were failing to achieve their stated goals—Congress repealed the federal act, eliminating federal incentives for states to maintain their CON programs. Since then, 15 states have done away with their CON regulations. A majority of states still maintain CON programs, however, and vestiges of the National Health Planning and Resources Development Act can be seen in the justifications that state legislatures offer in support of these regulations.

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