America’s business leaders and conservatives agree: Government should cut costs, stop overregulating, and shrink.  America’s economic freedom and the economic growth it generates depend on it.

President Thomas J. Donohue of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce recently expressed concern about the continued fall of the U.S. in the rankings of countries according to their economic freedom:

“It would be easy to assume that a nation built on the principles of personal liberty and free enterprise would be at or near the top—and for many years it was.  But according to the Economic Freedom Index recently released by the Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal, the United States doesn’t even crack the top 10.”

The 20th Edition of the Heritage Index of Economic Freedom, published in January 2014, demonstrates that America now ranks 12th in the world in economic freedom, ranking slightly worse than the Republic of Estonia and slightly better than the Kingdom of Bahrain.

The importance of economic freedom is clear. As Heritage President Jim DeMint said upon releasing the 2014 Index, “It is freedom itself that creates economic growth around the world. That’s the whole point of economic freedom.”

Donohue and DeMint agree on a number of things America must correct to foster greater economic freedom, particularly government overregulation and federal spending.

Donohue focused on the danger of government overregulation:

“One of the biggest threats to our economic freedom is a federal government that is ballooning in size and scope. Much of this expansion has occurred through regulations, which are now being churned out at a rate of 4,000 a year.”

Donohue also emphasized the importance of limiting the cost of government:

“Out-of-control government spending and growing debt are also undermining our economic freedom. The fundamental drivers of our deficits are unsustainable entitlements. We need to modernize and reform them; otherwise, we’ll continue to borrow against our future, putting opportunity and prosperity at risk for generations of Americans. “

Similarly, DeMint identified government overregulation and burgeoning government as obstacles to economic freedom:

“In the past several years, increased regulation in the financial and health care sectors, the degradation of property rights, and massive growth in the size and scope of government have all contributed to the United States’ unfortunate but foreseeable slide in this freedom rating.”

With the chief business leader at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the top conservative at The Heritage Foundation focusing the business community and America’s conservatives on the need to cut the cost of government and rein in its regulations as part of the solution to deteriorating American economic freedom, perhaps there is room for at least some optimism that America’s best days of economic freedom lie not in the past, but in the future.