Michael Barone looks at the American divergence from European economic policies that have stagnated Europe, but also made for a cushier lifestyle.

The Bush administration came into office with plans to get us off the European trajectory, and has had partial success. At the moment, it seems inclined to let the Republican Congress set the course on domestic policy, which means letting the workings of regulated private markets in pensions and health care determine our direction. Democrats would like to move us some distance toward Europe, but how far they neither say nor, so far as I can tell, know. The Bush years have not produced a crisp decision to get off the European trajectory. But they have produced some significant movement in that direction, notwithstanding narrow Republican congressional majorities and harsh partisan divisions.