More than 40 members of Congress will attend The Heritage Foundation’s three-day Conservative Members Retreat this week. Lawmakers and their families will learn about and discuss conservative thought and the practical application of conservative principles to legislation.

Heritage’s top policy experts will be onsite to explain conservative solutions and develop relationships with the lawmakers. Some of the Heritage scholars attending include: marriage expert Ryan Anderson, first principles expert David Azerrad, family policy expert Jennifer Marshall, education expert Lindsey Burke, energy expert Nick Loris, and health care expert Nina Owcharenko.

To get America back to greatness, we need to change the bad policies that have limited freedom, increased spending and debt, weakened our defenses, ignored the Constitution, and allowed further government intrusion into our personal lives. That’s why Heritage makes such an effort to educate lawmakers and ensure they understand the merits of conservative policies.

Do you think it’s important to build relationships upon a shared understanding of conservative principles with lawmakers?

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) speaks about Heritage's Index of Economic Freedom .

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) speaks about Heritage’s Index of Economic Freedom . Photo: Katie Nielsen

Big government policies like regulations on commerce and cronyism are to blame for the United States’ 12th-place ranking in Heritage’s 2015 Index of Economic Freedom, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) said today at The Heritage Foundation.

In a speech to help launch the Index, Ryan added that that Heritage has been instrumental in making the case against cronyism. Cronyism, which involves special interests using the power of government for their own benefit, is extraordinarily damaging to free economies.

“Opportunity for all and favoritism to none should be our creed at home and abroad,” Ryan said. “Opportunity for All, Favoritism to None” is the name of a 192-page Heritage report detailing a policy agenda for the new Congress.

What do you think are the real saboteurs of a free economy?

Heritage’s Terry Miller reports some good news in the Wall Street Journal (subscribers only):

A steep, seven-year decline in U.S. economic freedom has come to an end, according to the 2015 Index of Economic Freedom, published Tuesday by the Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal. The U.S. score in the index experienced a particularly large drop in 2009-10, pushing this country out of the “free” category and into the “mostly free” category. A slight 0.7-point uptick this year has allowed the U.S. to retain its 12th-place ranking. 

The index measures commitment to free enterprise on a scale of 0 to 100 by evaluating policies related to the rule of law, government size, regulatory efficiency and market openness. Restraint in the growth of government spending drove the modest improvement in the U.S. score. 

Since changes in index scores are highly correlated with economic growth rates, the modest rebound for the U.S. raises hopes that the economy can regain some of the momentum lost through the excessive spending, taxes and regulations of the Obama era. The 2010 elections, which returned control of the House of Representatives to Republicans, brought some restraint in government excess, a fact reflected in the U.S. economic freedom trend and the recent uptick in U.S. economic activity. The 2014 election promises even greater restraint in the growth of government spending and regulation.

Get more info directly from the 2015 Index of Economic Freedom. The United States ranked 12th in the world, or “mostly free,” trailing countries like New Zealand, Chile, Ireland and Mauritius. Hong Kong once again ranked the world’s freest economy.

How do you think the United States can improve its ranking in the Index?

The 2015 Index of Economic Freedom

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) will be at The Heritage Foundation tomorrow to help launch the 2015 Index of Economic Freedom.

America was ranked 12th in last year’s Index, behind countries like Chile, Denmark, and Estonia. Ryan’s speech will focus on how America can improve its rank in the Index and reclaim global leadership in economic freedom.

This will be the 21st edition of the Index of Economic Freedom, which has been produced in collaboration with The Wall Street Journal since 1995. The Index evaluates economic conditions and government policies in 186 countries and ranks them from most free to least free. Since its inception, the Index has tracked the progress of economic freedom around the globe and measured the impact of advancing economic liberty.

If you can’t attend in person at Heritage, be sure to tune in online to watch Rep. Ryan (R-WI) announce the release of the 2015 Index.

Heritage Foundation Korea expert Bruce Klingner was in Seoul, South Korea recently. There, Klingner was introduced to a North Korean defector who was a former diplomat. Upon realizing Klingner was from Heritage, the defector smiled and said that The Heritage Foundation is very famous in North Korea:

Heritage papers are read, including by the senior leadership, to get one important view of the world. The papers are widely read, especially those on Korea.

He also had a warning for America: he said North Korea’s nuclear weapons programs are more advanced than we realize.

As Klingner has said before, “North Korea poses a growing national security threat to our nation and its allies. Pyongyang continues to augment and refine its nuclear and missile arsenals.” And without a firm response from the Obama administration, subsequent threats will arise.

Do you think the Obama administration should strengthen its response to North Korea?

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