Oh how the mighty have fallen, or rather, how the mighty have been worn down after years of constant abuse. Such is the story of how economic freedom in the United States has worsened over President Obama’s two terms in office. When he was elected in 2008, America had the 6th most free economy in the world. Eight years later, we’ve sunk all the way down past Lithuania(!). Restoring that economic freedom won’t be an easy task for the Trump administration. They’ll need to focus on deregulation, cutting spending, and reforming the tax code. If those goals are pursued, the U.S. may regain it’s top ten ranking in economic freedom someday.
After peaking in 2006, economic freedom in the United States began a slow but steady decline. In 2014 the U.S. fell out of the top ten for the first time since the Wall Street Journal and Heritage Foundation began ranking countries in 1995. As a result of massive stimulus spending, tax increases, the passage of Obamacare, and an ever-powerful regulatory state, our economic freedom score declined by six points to its current 75.1. This dropped our country’s rating from “Free” (100-80) to only “Mostly Free” (79-70). A further drop of that magnitude would change our rating to “Moderately Free” (69-60) which represents countries like Columbia.
This trend can be reversed if the Trump administration adopts the correct measures. Repealing Obamacare will be a massive step in the right direction if its done correctly. Cutting taxes on businesses and individuals will also prove beneficial. Those are fairly simply tasks that Republicans should be able to accomplish with ease. In addition to actions that need to be taken, there are also several that must be avoided. President Trump must back off his anti-free trade stance and stop threatening to renegotiate NAFTA and other free trade agreements. Protectionist measures will only damage our economy, and all Americans’ economic freedom.
It’s up to the Trump administration whether or not they want to reverse the decline of economic freedom in the United States. They have the power to restore our economy to its previous level of excellence, and the power to continue the damage done over the past eight years. Only time will tell which side prevails.