Within a span of just a few hours this week, three seemingly unrelated events all, by happenstance, made headlines in America: the one-year anniversary of President Obama’s inauguration, a historically earthshaking election in Massachusetts, and the release of The Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Freedom. But perhaps there are no coincidences in life.
What narrative arc ties these headlines together? Our Index revealed today that the United States is no longer as economically free as it once was (and, in fact, dropped out of the “free” category altogether); President Obama spent his first year continuing – and exacerbating – dangerous economic policies that predated his swearing-in; and Scott Brown seized an unlikely victory in a true-blue state by campaigning on fighting the President’s disastrous economic policies. What’s more, he made it known to all that he would cast the 41st vote to be a firewall of conservative sanity to President Obama’s liberal agenda.
Just as one wouldn’t turn up their nose at a lucky four-leaf clover, Heritage will not let this series of coincidences pass us by. We’re sending Mr. Brown a copy of the Index of Economic Freedom. Why not? His campaign hit hard at Mr. Obama’s “stimulus” package, which, according to the Index, is a policy that was a significant contributing factor to America’s drop in economic freedom and has led to the plunge in our investment freedom. In main street terms, the devastating consequence is an unemployment rate of 10% that doesn’t appear to be budging any time soon. It’s not just the layoffs, it’s also that there’s no new investment to create employment opportunities. In fact, of the ten categories the Index measures to determine degree of economic freedom, the United States fell in seven.
It’s as if Mr. Brown took a page (or several pages) right out of our Index. He relentlessly attacked our government’s interventionist instincts—the takeover of major parts of our economy—that led to a drop in our property rights, another reason why we are today “the land of the mostly free.”
Let there be no doubt, our Index, which spans the June 30, 2008, to June 30, 2009, period, makes clear that many of the policies which have led to our “less free” status were started under President George W. Bush. One glaring example is the Troubled Asset Relief Program, which started under Mr. Bush. The Index makes clear, though, that Mr. Obama has at least doubled down on all of the economically harmful policies from the previous administration.
The Index does not cover Mr. Obama’s attempted takeover of our health sector, which is almost one fifth of our economy. (To put it in perspective, if it were a country it would have an economy as big as the UK’s.) And it leaves out the attendant tax burden, deficit spending, and miles of red tape that would come with Obamacare. And the Index doesn’t include the job-killing cap-and-tax scheme, which would surely cripple our economy. Of course, all of that looks less likely right now after the fortuitous Boston Tea Party of January 19, 2010.
So we hope that Sen. Brown will enjoy our Index. Whether he knew it or not, the message he campaigned on mirrors the ideal of economic freedom the Index espouses. Perhaps it was a coincidence, but it’s not one we’re willing to overlook.
Follow Heritage’s Mike Gonzalez on Twitter @Gundisalvus