In his January speech, the President spoke eloquently: “One of the greatest contributions the United States can make to the world is to promote freedom as the key to economic growth. A creative, competitive America is the answer to a changing world, not trade wars that would close doors, create greater barriers and destroy millions of jobs. We should always remember: Protectionism is destructionism.”
Oh, sorry! Did you think that was President Obama? Actually, the President who spoke those words was Ronald Reagan in his last State of the Union address 25 years ago.
In his two terms in office, President Reagan gave America a powerful transfusion of his own optimism and hope. He rekindled a sense of the possible, rescuing America from defeatism and restoring our confidence and pride in this great nation. That transformation of America was possible chiefly because of Reagan’s unshakable faith in the power of ideas.
President Reagan’s wisdom and insight on the power of freedom continue live on in The Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Freedom. His legacy shines brightly in the experiences of many developing economies that have joined the free world only in recent decades. The embrace of economic freedom by the young democracies of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union has proven particularly remarkable, and many other countries have made gains in reducing poverty by adopting measures that open up their economies.
Regrettably, America’s leadership in advancing economic freedom has been fading. According to the recently released 2013 Index, the United States remains just a “Mostly Free” economy. America’s economic freedom is at its lowest level since 2000, and its scores have declined six years in a row.
Today, as we commemorate President Reagan’s 102nd birthday, renewing our commitment to economic freedom is the best way to restore confidence in the power of conservative ideas, which can resurrect America’s opportunity for all.