The Wall Street Journal and the Heritage Foundation have released their annual Index of Economic Freedom for 2013, and bad news, friends: More top-down regulations, more federal intrusion, expanded deficit spending, and heightened rent-seeking are in fact not conditions conducive to economic freedom. Based on measures relating to the rule of law, limited government, regulatory efficiency, and open markets, the United States came in tenth place, following Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland, Canada, Chile, Mauritius, and Denmark. The least-free countries were Venezuela, Zimbabwe, Cuba, and North Korea in dead last.
Registering a loss of economic freedom for the fifth consecutive year, the U.S. has recorded its lowest Index score since 2000. Dynamic entrepreneurial growth is stifled by ever-more-bloated government and a trend toward cronyism that erodes the rule of law. More than three years after the end of recession in June 2009, the U.S. continues to suffer from policy choices that have led to the slowest recovery in 70 years. Businesses remain in a holding pattern, and unemployment is close to 8 percent. Prospects for greater fiscal freedom are uncertain due to the scheduled expiration of previous cuts in income and payroll taxes and the imposition of new taxes associated with the 2010 health care law.