Donald Lambro

On trade, Rendell had nothing good to say about America's remarkable performance in the global economy, focusing myopically on trade deficits, but ignoring expanding U.S. exports throughout the world. We sold more than $1 trillion worth of goods and services abroad in 2004, and last year's figures may well exceed that level.

Surely a country's sales abroad are a major measurement of whether it is competitive and U.S. exports have been growing, not shrinking. Boeing is selling more planes, Intel is selling more computer chips.

Yes, the trade deficit has risen, but that is more a reflection of growing U.S. affluence and, in part, weaker consumer economies elsewhere in the world. We buy a lot of imports because we are a rich nation, but we also import a lot, too, especially at the lower end of the consumer price scale. This is not a negative. It helps Americans save money so they have more to spend on other things.

Rendell kept comparing the U.S. economy to all the other industrialized nations of the world, but he did not compare numbers that show the United States was growing faster than any of them -- by far. The U.S. economy grew by 4 percent in the third quarter in 2005. Europe was growing by little more than 1 percent. Our gross domestic product since Bush took office has soared from about $10 trillion a year to nearly $12 trillion.

Our unemployment rate is at 4.9 percent, below average over the last 30 years. Europe's permanent jobless rate has remained stuck at more than 9 percent for many years.

As for losing the competitive edge technologically, it is hard to think of any new breakthrough technology in Europe in the last several years, or in the Pacific Rim countries, while we have been on the cutting edge in a number of new generation high tech inventions and products. Microsoft's Windows is still driving most of the world's PCs.

The U.S. economy, which is intensely competitive, remains the envy of the industrialized world at just about every level, but that isn't the country that Ed Rendell sees in his politically-driven assessment of America's future.

It is a world view that is sharply at odds with the latest U.S. consumer confidence polls which reflect a growing belief that America's greatest days are still ahead of us.

Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.