OPINION: BRYAN SMITH — The Idaho Freedom Foundation measures promises made
Bryan Smith GUEST OPINION
During the recent election cycle, some were critical of the Idaho Freedom Foundation Index (IFFI) which scores how legislators vote. Some voices proclaimed the IFFI is an extreme hard right ideology out of step with “common sense” Idaho conservative values. These and similar statements often are made by liberals masquerading as Republicans hoping that Republican voters will discount the IFFI. The 12 IFFI principles used to score how legislators vote are closely aligned with the Idaho Republican Party Platform (IRPP). Let’s look at the first four of these principles.
The first IFFI principle asks, “Does it create, expand, or enlarge any agency, board, program, function, or activity of government?” This principle is similar to the IRPP, which states, “We believe unnecessary growth of government has a negative impact on both the conduct of business and our individual lives.”
Nearly every Republican office seeker says during a campaign that government is just too big and promises to reduce the size of government. Yet, time and time again, once they’re elected, they break their promises and increase the size of government.
The second IFFI principle asks, “Does it transfer a function of the private sector to the government?” This principle is also similar to the IRPP, which states, “We will continue to lead the fight to reduce the growth of government bureaucracy and promote private enterprise and individual initiative in the marketplace as the solution to our domestic policy challenges.”
As government expands, it often does so at the expense of the private sector by either creating another harmful program or extracting taxes from hard working Idahoans who could have used their money to start a new business.
The third IFFI principle asks, “Does it give government any new, additional, or expanded power to prohibit, restrict, or regulate activities in the free market?” Again, this principle aligns with the IRPP, which states, “A competitive market, free of undue governmental competition, restriction, coercion or interference is critical to Idaho’s economic well-being.”
If the last three months of COVID-19 have taught us anything, they’ve taught us the devastating effects of government that uses its power unreasonably to restrict and regulate free market activities. We need to be vigilant in holding legislators accountable for supporting similar wrongs during the legislative process because the effects can be just as devastating to the free market.
The fourth IFFI principle asks, “Does it increase barriers to entry into the market?” This is a bedrock principle in the IRPP, whose Preamble states, “We believe free enterprise and encouraging individual initiative have brought this nation and state opportunity, economic growth and prosperity.”
Virtually all Republican legislators campaign saying they oppose government making it more difficult for individuals to start businesses or to create economic growth. Yet, when elected, these same legislators vote time and time again for licensing everything from sign language interpreters to yoga instructors. Burdensome regulation kills individual initiative, economic growth and prosperity.
Republican voters expect Republican legislators to act like Republicans and support the IRPP once they’re elected. Fortunately, the IFFI serves as an easy way to identify Republican legislators who keep their promises and those who say one thing and do another.
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Bryan Smith serves as the Second Vice Chair of the State Republican Party. He also serves on the Board of the Idaho Freedom Foundation.