the other day he was praising low health care costs in israel unaware that israel has universial healthcare. today he was praising poland as a place with small government that the us should emulate: "Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney hailed Poland's economy Tuesday as something akin to a Republican dream: a place of small government, individual empowerment and free enterprise." oops: Poland is indeed one of the fastest growing economies in Europe, with growth of 4.3 percent last year and projected growth of around 3 percent this year _ enviable numbers in an ailing Europe where some countries are in recession and many others are stagnant. Business people have also taken to capitalism, with small and medium businesses flourishing around the country. But the government's role is bigger than in the U.S. According to International Monetary Fund statistics, total government expenditure as a percentage of GDP was about 44 percent last year _ compared to 41 percent in the United States. While it's true that Poland is one of Europe's fastest-growing economies and boasts dynamic entrepreneurs, Romney's depiction of Poland as a place of small government is debatable. Even 23 years after throwing off a communist command economy, the Polish government continues to have a strong presence in people's lives: it gives women $300 for each baby they have, doubling that sum for poor families; it fully funds state university educations; and it guarantees health care to all its 38 million citizens. Most Americans would also not trade in their standard of living for that in Poland. Growth has been dynamic in part because the country started off from such a low point after throwing off communism. Romney did not mention that unemployment is 12.4 percent or that wages are low. GDP per capita last year in Poland was $20,600 compared to $49,000 in the U.S., according to U.S. government data.