U.S. ECONOMIC FREEDOM AT HISTORIC LOW

What Has Happened and How Do We Get It Back?

(THE DAILY SIGNAL) – It’s already been eight years since the Great Recession, yet the U.S. economy has been just inching along, with its productivity flagging and millions being locked out of the labor market.

One critical underlying factor for this lack of economic dynamism has been the startling decline of America’s economic freedom, an unfortunate legacy of Barack Obama’s eight-year presidency.

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The Heritage Foundation’s 2017 Index of Economic Freedom—an annual global study that compares countries’ entrepreneurial environments—highlights the urgent need for the U.S. to change course. For the ninth time in the past 10 years since 2008, America has lost ground.

According to the 2017 index, the U.S. ranks 17th out of 180 rated economies, lagging behind other comparable advanced economies such as Switzerland (fourth), Australia (fifth), Canada (seventh), and the United Kingdom (12th).

The U.S. remains mired in the ranks of the “mostly free,” the second-tier economic freedom status into which it dropped in 2010.

Since 1995, the index has measured a nation’s commitment to limited government and free enterprise on a scale of 0 to 100 by evaluating four critical policy pillars, including rule of law and regulatory efficiency.

These commitments have powerful effects: Countries achieving higher levels of economic freedom consistently and measurably outperform others in economic growth, long-term prosperity, and social progress. Those losing freedom, on the other hand, risk economic stagnation, high unemployment, and deteriorating social conditions.

In fact, America’s standing in the index had dwindled steadily during the Obama years. This largely owed to increased government spending, regulations, and a failed stimulus program that enriched the well-connected while leaving average Americans behind.

Registering its lowest economic freedom score ever, America continued its string of discouraging trends in the 2017 index. Obama’s Washington-first, government-centric approach to policymaking has inflicted long-term damage to U.S. economic growth.

The growth of government has been accompanied by increasing cronyism that has undermined the rule of law and perceptions of fairness…[Read More]

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