FIRST ON FOX: The U.S. economy under President Biden plunged to an all-time low, according to the Heritage Foundation’s annual Index of Economic Freedom.
"This year’s Index of Economic Freedom paints a disturbing picture, both at home and abroad," Heritage President Kevin Roberts said of the report. "The decline of American economic freedom is serious cause for alarm and has real and tangible consequences for all Americans, especially low-income families and the working class."
US ranking drops
The report determined the U.S. fell 2.7 points from the 2021 Index of Economic Freedom to a record-low score of 72.1, according to the data released Monday. The U.S. also fell to its lowest ranking globally, from the 20th spot in last year’s rating to 25th in 2022.
The index, launched in 1995, evaluates countries on rule of law, government size, regulatory efficiency and open markets, while also examining specific categories such as property rights, judicial effectiveness, government integrity and tax burden.
Americans are currently dealing with 40-year highs in inflation, with the consumer price index rising 7.5% in January of this year compared to the same month in 2021. Biden’s first year in office also saw a supply-chain crisis, U.S. consumer confidence plunging to an 11-year low, industries rocked by vaccine and mask mandates and the U.S. national debt notching a new record when it surpassed $30 trillion.
"Since early 2020, when the Chinese Communist Party unleashed the COVID-19 pandemic on the world, we have dealt with one of the greatest political, social and economic upheavals of the past century," Roberts said.
"The lives and livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people have been deeply disrupted, not just by the virus, but especially by draconian lockdowns, intrusive public health mandates and restrictions on commerce and trade. Trillions of dollars in new federal spending have further weakened our economy and caused a historic spike in inflation."
Singapore tops list
The index found Singapore came in the top spot among the 10 most free nations, followed by Switzerland, Ireland, New Zealand, Luxembourg, Taiwan, Estonia, Netherlands, Finland and Denmark. This year marks the first time since 2006 Australia didn’t make it on the most-free list, with Heritage pointing to the country’s "sustained severe lockdowns."
The report found that, globally, the economy remains "moderately free," though the economic freedom score dropped to 60 this year from 61.6 in 2021.
"Most every economy included in the 2022 Index experienced negative growth in 2020, which is not surprising given that so many of the actions that governments have taken in the name of protecting public health have also reduced economic freedom," the editors of the index wrote. "These restrictions have exacted a cost in terms of human well-being that must be added to the enormous cost of the death toll from the disease itself."
North Korea came in as the least free nation in the world, with countries Zimbabwe, Sudan, Cuba and Venezuela also claiming spots in the top 10 least free countries list. Heritage determined "economic freedom remained almost nonexistent" in China.
Roberts used the report to call on the U.S. government to "get its fiscal house in order" and "unleash freedom."
"We have an opportunity to speak to the very real concerns of Americans struggling in an economy where they are increasingly losing not just their freedom, but evermore of their hard-earned saving," Roberts said. "It’s time for the U.S. government to get its fiscal house in order, unleash freedom here at home and help Americans flourish once again through self-governance."