America's Economic Bill of Rights
July 3, 1987
The Founding Fathers of our country knew that without economic freedom there can be no political freedom. Their rallying cry of "No taxation without representation" reflects that fundamental precept. They knew that the right to earn your own keep and keep what you earn is central to America's understanding of what it means to be free. This country was built by people seeking to support themselves and their families by their own labor, people who treasured the right to work and dispose of their earnings as they saw fit, people who were willing to take economic risks.
Over the past 40 years, however, the growth of government has left our citizens with less control over their economic lives. What America needs now is an Economic Bill of Rights that guarantees four fundamental freedoms:
• The freedom to work.
• The freedom to enjoy the fruits of one's labor.
• The freedom to own and control one's property.
• The freedom to participate in a free market.
To secure these freedoms, I propose the following initiatives:
The Freedom to Work: You have the right to pursue your livelihood in your own way, free from excessive government regulation and subsidized government competition.
1.) To reduce subsidized government competition with private citizens, I will establish a bipartisan Presidential Commission on Privatization to identify government programs and activities that can be accomplished more effectively in the private sector. I will also instruct the executive branch to find additional ways for contracting outside the government to perform those tasks that belong in the private sector. As to those activities that should properly remain in the government, I have asked the President's Council on Management Improvement to accelerate its productivity improvement program by i year and to adopt private sector practices where they would promote efficiency.
2.) To reduce the burden of government regulation, I have reconstituted the Task Force on Regulatory Relief, chaired by the Vice President, to root out unnecessary restrictions on the individual's pursuit of a livelihood.
The Freedom to Enjoy the Fruits of Your Labor: You have the right to keep what you earn, free from excessive government taxing, spending, and borrowing.
3.) To protect you from overborrowing by the government, I will ask the Congress to adopt a balanced budget amendment, a line item veto, and legislative changes that will restore integrity to the congressional budget process.
4.) To protect you from overtaxing by the Government, I will propose as part of the balanced budget amendment submitted to Congress, a requirement for a supermajority vote by Congress before your taxes can be raised. This reform will help make permanent our recent progress in lowering your tax rates, broadening the tax base to ensure fairness, and indexing rates so that inflation cannot push taxes back up.
5.) To protect you from excess spending by the Federal Government, I will propose Truth in Federal Spending legislation that will:
A. Require that every new program established by legislation increasing Federal spending be deficit-neutral by including equal amounts of offsets.
B. Require that every piece of legislation mandating an increase in private sector costs or imposing new regulations include a financial impact statement detailing:
—The impact on private costs;
—The impact on prices for the consumer;
—The effect on employment;
—The impact on the ability of U.S. industries to compete internationally.
C. Require that every piece of legislation forcing increased expenditures by State and local governments include an assessment of the spending impact, the likely source of funding, and the ability of these governments to fulfill the mandates of the legislation.
The Freedom to Own and Control Your Property: You have the right to keep and use your property, free from government control through coercive or confiscatory regulation.
6.) To protect your right to own and use your property, my administration will pursue our successful efforts in the courts to restore your constitutional rights when the government at any level attempts to take your property through regulation or other means.
7.) To protect intellectual property and to encourage creativity, I will urge that the Congress act on my proposals to provide adequate domestic and international protection to Americans who create new ideas and invent new goods and services.
Freedom to Participate in a Free Market: You have the right to contract freely for goods and services and to achieve your full potential without government limits on opportunity, economic independence, and growth.
8.) To reform the present welfare system that promotes dependency and destroys families and communities, I have proposed a welfare reform initiative that will lift the least fortunate among us up from dependency by creating incentives for recipients to become independent of welfare as full participants in the American economy.
9.) To prepare our youth for participation in today's economy, I will ask the Congress and the States to enact proposals that will protect the rights of parents to guide their children and select from a broad array of educational options that emphasize excellence, character, and values. I will also promote programs to assist problem students to complete their education and to encourage dropouts to return to school.
10.) To arm American workers and businessmen for full participation in an increasingly complex world economy, I will press for the Congress to act on my trade, employment, and productivity proposals to:
—Increase job retraining and other initiatives which improve opportunity for the American worker.
—Encourage science and technology by increasing support for basic research and development.
—Enact antitrust, product liability, foreign corrupt practices, and other regulatory reforms that place American enterprise on a level playing field with foreign competitors.
—Improve America's ability to secure free and fair trade without resorting to protectionist measures that destroy jobs and harm the consumer.