When Isabel Díaz Ayuso recently spoke out against high taxation, it came as no shock to those who have followed her for years. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the president of the Community of Madrid has championed liberty to empower her fellow Spaniards.
Back in 2020, the “Iron Lady of Madrid” refused to lock down her city and impose excessive COVID-19 mandates, stemming the tide of government overreach that had overtaken other European countries. At first, Díaz Ayuso took action against the coronavirus, closing shops and non-essential businesses to stop the spread of the first viral wave. But, as the second and third waves came, she resisted the urge to impose unnecessary stay-at-home orders.
By the end of 2020, Madrid was buzzing. Bars, cafes, and restaurants filled up, while offices and schools opened. The regional economy hummed, and it remains healthy today. In August 2022, the Community of Madrid reported a more than 25 percent decline in unemployment since 2021—the largest year-over-year drop in history. Over the last 12 months, joblessness has dropped across all age brackets and productive sectors.
And that’s not all. As of September 2022, the Community of Madrid has recovered nearly 99 percent of the economic output lost during the pandemic—well above the national average. Last year, Madrid’s gross domestic output rebounded by 6.5 percent, outperforming the 5.1 percent for Spain writ large. The recovery continues now, with annual economic growth still exceeding 5 percent heading into 2023.
In Madrid, entrepreneurship and private-sector innovation are alive. Businesses are opening and staying open, while consumers are contributing to the market economy. It’s a model not only for the rest of Spain, but also for cities around the world. Before enacting new taxes and regulations, policymakers in the likes of New York or San Francisco can learn a thing or two from the pro-market policies of Díaz Ayuso and Javier Fernández-Lasquetty, her Cabinet Minister of Finance and Civil Service. Despite pushback from Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s socialist government, Díaz Ayuso’s leadership has shown that freedom and liberty are the safest and surest bets for sustained economic prosperity.
So, when Díaz Ayuso speaks out against government mandates today, people need to listen. As she recently put it, “Madrid is recognition of a job well done and respect for work and encouragement. It is a matter of political will, respect for the efforts of the taxpayer and effective management of public resources. Collecting is not governing. To govern is to manage.”
That is the role of government—to oversee, not to exploit. The proper place for political leadership is in enabling the free market to work its wonders, fostering an environment where employers and employees can truly thrive. Political leaders should incentivize entrepreneurs to innovate, rather than erect barriers in their way via mandates.
One example is high taxation, which Díaz Ayuso has consistently rolled back since coming to power in 2019. Under her leadership, Madrid citizens have saved an average of nearly $6,500 in taxes per person. That money can now be spent, saved, or invested. Judging by Madrid’s growth rate, the money is already going to work and strengthening the private sector.
From lower taxes to other policies, Díaz Ayuso is leading by empowering her fellow citizens, trusting the people of Madrid to bounce back from COVID-19 and fuel an economic recovery that lasts long after the pandemic.
Looking across the pond, Americans can only hope that U.S. policymakers take a page or two from the Iron Lady’s playbook. The power of freedom and liberty is universal—from the Plaza Mayor to New York, San Francisco, and beyond.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.