President Obama has run "the most anti-choice administration in our lifetime" -- at least on economic issues -- Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said during a discussion of the United States' recent slide on an economic freedom index rating.
"It's about freedom of choice," Paul said Tuesday at an event marking the release of the Heritage Foundation's annual Index of Economic Freedom. "It's about freedom of choice. You have given up your freedom to choose your insurance company. Your freedom to choose your doctor. All you have to do is get on the Obamacare website and realize you have four choices now. But it's not just about health care. It's lightbulbs, it's toilets, it's cars -- you name it, your freedom of choice is gone. For a party that says they are the pro-choice party, this is the most anti-choice administration we've seen in a lifetime."
The 2014 index, calculated by the Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal, showed a seventh straight year of decline for the United States. The U.S. now ranks 12th internationally.
Kim Holmes, who helped begin the index 20 years ago, pointed out that economic studies "have shown the statistical correlation between economic growth over time and [the Heritage index score] is extremely high."
That's good for most countries, as the average economic freedom score is at an all-time high. “This essentially is showing that we are no longer the model, but others are the model for what makes countries' economies prosperous," Holmes said.
The Heritage panelists were very critical of Obama's policies, but they offered bipartisan criticism and praise: the U.S. slide began with policies implemented by former President George W. Bush, all agreed, and Holmes recalled the Clinton years as a time when the "Washington consensus" facilitated economic freedom and growth.
"The policies have been almost universally in the wrong direction, certainly, since the recession began," said Wall Street Journal economics writer Steve Moore, who was especially critical of "those dim-witted tax increases" that came with the expiration of the Bush tax cuts in the 2012 fiscal cliff deal.
"Substantial expansion in the size and scope of government, including through new and costly regulations in areas like finance and health care, has contributed significantly to the erosion of U.S. economic freedom," the report says in profiling the U.S. economy. "The growth of government has been accompanied by increasing cronyism that has undermined the rule of law and perceptions of fairness."