USA Falls, Again, to 12th Place in Index of Economic Freedom Report

By Ali Meyer | January 15, 2014 | 11:06 AM EST

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( -- America’s economic freedom ranking declined again this year, matching a 15-year-low and making the USA the only country to record a loss of economic freedom each of the past seven years, according to data from the Heritage Foundation’s 2014 Index of Economic Freedom.

The Index rates economic freedom for countries on ten quantitative and qualitative factors that are based on four pillars of freedom: rule of law, limited government, regulatory efficiency and open markets. “Each of the ten economic freedoms within these categories is graded on a scale of 0 to 100. A country’s overall score is derived by averaging these ten economic freedoms, with equal weight being given to each,” according to the Index.

This year, the United States’ rank fell below the top ten countries that were awarded highest economic freedom rankings.

When President Obama took office in 2009, the United States ranked sixth for economic freedom. Now in 2014, the United States has fallen by six to twelfth place.

The top 11 countries in the Index respectively are: Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, Switzerland, New Zealand, Canada, Chile, Mauritius, Ireland, Denmark and Estonia.

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“The United States continues to lose ground to its competitors in the global race to advance economic freedom and prosperity,” reads the report. “Registering a decline in economic freedom for the seventh year in a row, the U.S. tumbled from the ranks of the top 10 freest economies, falling two spots in the rankings to 12th place. The U.S. score has declined almost 6 points since 2007, placing the U.S. among those countries considered to be only ‘mostly free.’ In the 2014 Index, the U.S. recorded notable declines in fiscal freedom, business freedom, and property rights.”

“You know, if you like your freedom, you can keep it. Or maybe not,” said Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) at an Index panel hosted by the Heritage Foundation on Tuesday in Washington, D.C.  “This year the United States slips in a ranking for economic freedom. Why? Because economic freedom is inversely proportional to the size of your government. And government continues to grow at an alarming pace.”

“The government takeover of health care is a significant loss of freedom,” said the senator.  “In fact, I would argue that Obamacare involves the largest loss of freedom of choice in 50 years.”

(AP Photo)

Not only does the Index illustrate the growth of government over the past years, but it is indicative that the United States is losing its reputation as a model for economic freedom.

“As the U.S. score is going down, global economic freedom is going up. The global average score in 2014 is the highest average in the 20-year history of the Index. So this essentially is showing that we are no longer the model, that others are the model for what makes economies prosperous. We are, as you will see in the Index, we are now in the category of declining countries, including Greece, Italy, Spain and others,” said Kim Holmes, a distinguished fellow at the Heritage Foundation and one of the authors of the Index.

That decline in economic freedom has been happening for seven years now, and the recovery of the economy has not been successful, said Stephen Moore, a senior economics writer at The Wall Street Journal.

“Incomes have also stagnated in this recovery, which is really unusual,” he said.  “We’re in the fifth year of recovery and the average middle-class family in America today has $2,000-less purchasing power than they did when the recovery began. I’m not talking about the incomes of people lost during the recession, I’m saying people lost income even as the recovery has transpired. That’s really terrible news.”

“I call this a half-sized recovery because that’s essentially the pace of the recovery,” said Moore. “And then the question, of course, is why? Why aren’t we seeing anything like in this recovery like we would normally expect in what the American people demand?  And I would make the case that the answer is contained right in this Index.”

“Looking at just the job numbers that came out on Friday, 75,000 jobs or something in the 70,000 range -- you know, in the Reagan recovery we had months where the U.S. economy created one million jobs in one month,” said Moore. “So we are so far behind our potential where we should be.”