[2/16/17]  The Heritage Foundation minced no words in commenting on its latest Index of Economic Freedom: America’s continuing decline is all Obama’s fault:

America’s standing in the index [now in 17th place, the lowest in history] has dwindled steadily during the Obama years. This is largely owed to increased government spending, [increased] regulations, and a failed stimulus program that enriched the well-connected while leaving average Americans behind.

For the ninth time in 10 years, America’s index has lost ground. Coming in above 80 in 2008, the United States’ current index is barely above 75, tying it with Denmark, and just above Sweden and Latvia. But the latest rating places it way behind the United Kingdom (76.4), Canada (78.5), Australia (81), Switzerland (81.5), New Zealand (82.7), Singapore (88.6), and Hong Kong (89.8).

Heritage names “large budget deficits and a high level of public debt” as contributing to the continuing decline in America’s economic freedom, keeping it in the middle category of “mostly free” into which it first fell in 2010. Added Heritage:

Registering its lowest economic freedom score ever, America continued its string of discouraging trends in the 2017 index. Obama’s Washington-first, government-centric approach to policymaking has inflicted long-term damage to U.S. economic growth.

About the only bright spot that Heritage could find was that America’s manufacturing sector measured both by output and productivity is “at historic highs.”

Under “Rule of Law,” Heritage notes that “rising civil asset forfeitures by law enforcement agencies … have directly encroached on U.S. citizens’ property rights. Steve Byas, writing in The New American, made the same point:

It is not a small problem. In 2014, federal law-enforcement officers seized over $5 billion in assets [compared to] burglary losses [which] were less than $4 billion.  This does not include private property seized by local law-enforcement agencies.

This disregard for the law has, according to the Pew Research Center, reduced Americans’ trust in government significantly, with just 19 percent trusting the government “always or most of the time.”