Louis DeBroux / Jan. 31, 2018

Under Trump, America Rises on Global Freedom Index

We've moved up from #24 to #17 in just one year. That's change we can believe in.

  When it comes to freedom in America, there is good news and bad news. The bad news is that, in global rankings of economic freedom, the United States is only #17. The good news is that in 2016 we were #24, so we have moved solidly toward freedom in just one year.

So what changed?

It’s safe to say that unlike Barack Obama, President Donald Trump has been the change we can believe in. Despite the hyperbolic, lunatic rantings of the media and progressive Democrats (but we repeat ourselves), Trump has not become America’s Hitler or Stalin; quite the opposite, in fact.

In one sense, Liberty is a zero-sum game; when the size and power of government expands, the liberty of the individual contracts. The more power accumulated by government, the more it infringes on the rights of the individual. This is why the Founders created a government of limited, or “enumerated” powers.

Since 2008, the Cato Institute and the Fraser Institute have collaborated to develop the Human Freedom Index, ranking the nations of the world from most free to least free, scoring them on the presence of indicators of personal and economic freedom, such as the Rule of Law, the security and safety of citizens, freedoms of religion and speech, the size of government, property rights, sound money, taxation and regulation.

President George W. Bush started the Wall Street bailouts and ramped up spending, which contracted freedom by expanding government. Candidate Obama criticized Bush’s $4 trillion debt run-up as “unpatriotic,” yet during his own eight years in office, Obama vastly increased federal spending, rammed through a nearly $1 trillion “stimulus” law that actually increased headline unemployment from under 8% up to 10% (real unemployment was nearly twice that high), and doubled the national debt. He and his Democrat accomplices initiated a federal takeover of health care, which drove up costs and reduced access. He approved government spying on every American without a warrant. He used the power of the federal government to stifle religious freedom and force Americans to act in violation of their deeply-held religious beliefs or face punishment by the government.

For decades, the United States ranked in the Top 3 most free nations in the world, gradually declining as government expanded more and more, and in the process confiscating more of the fruits of our labors through massive spending and increased taxes, and infringing upon personal liberties. Thanks to the Obama administration, we dropped to 24th place. That’s one way to “lead from behind.”

President Trump’s first year has been an incredible catalyst for freedom. Early in his administration, he issued an executive order stipulating that for every new regulation implemented by a federal agency, two must be repealed. That EO has far exceeded expectations, with a staggering 22 regulations having been repealed for every one passed. The reining in of the abusive EPA alone has had a tremendous positive impact on property rights.

Likewise, the Republican Congress recently passed (without a single Democrat vote) and President Trump signed a huge tax reform bill into law, slashing corporate tax rates and lowering personal income tax rates, weighted heavily to the poor and middle class. Within weeks of passage, hundreds of companies had announced wage increases and bonuses, and expansion of operations in the U.S., which will create tens of thousands of jobs.

Democrats are vehemently opposed to this prosperity.

President Trump also reversed Obama-era policies hostile to people of faith, expanding exemptions to the “contraceptive mandate” of ObamaCare that forced American taxpayers to fund contraception, including abortifacients. His Department of Justice issued a memo detailing ways in which the Trump administration will protect those who act in accordance with their religious beliefs.

All of these changes have been a catalyst for substantial economic prosperity, driving confidence in our future as the stock market seems to hit a new record high weekly. It has also been a boon for individual liberty, repealing burdensome regulations that turn unsuspecting citizens into criminals and crush the entrepreneurial spirit under a mountain of bureaucratic red tape. And for those persistent enough to climb that mountain, there was always a capricious and arbitrary government bureaucrat eager to kick you in the teeth and send you tumbling back down, just to show you who’s boss.

All of this good news puts Democrats in a very awkward position. After eight years of economic stagnation under Obama, they are now left to criticize the rapidly increasing prosperity under Trump as “crumbs,” and the $1,000 to $2,500 employer bonuses and the extra money in the wallets of American workers as a result of the tax cuts as “doggy doo.”

At last night’s State of the Union, Democrats sat on their hands while Trump lauded rising wages and record-low black and Hispanic unemployment. What a visual.

Leftist Democrats for years have praised socialist Venezuela, next to last on the 2017 Freedom Index, as the country we should emulate. This is a country where much of the population is starving and without medicine, and even without toilet paper. They are killing zoo animals for food.

What a miserable position for Democrats to be in, trying to convince Americans — suddenly seeing bigger paychecks, pay raises, bonuses, job creation, and 401(k) growth — that they are being deceived, and that Democrats will lead them back to the Promised Land of … sub-2% GDP growth, wage stagnation and higher taxes.

The collective political wisdom, and historical trends, say Republicans will get killed in the 2018 mid-terms. But Donald Trump has already stunned prognosticators and rewritten history, and with a nation whose economic engine is revving up after a decade of stagnation — gaining freedom on the index by leaps and bounds — history may be rewritten again.

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