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Opening Arguments

Be afraid

I'm not one of those yearning for a bipartisan love fest to end the political gridlock in Washington. In fact, I'm one of those who gets a little nervous when it looks like the two sides might stumble onto the same page. This makes me very nervous.

Presidential hopefuls in both parties agree on at least one thing: Economic mobility, and the feeling of many Americans that they are being shut out from the nation’s prosperity, will be a defining theme of the 2016 campaign.

Former Florida governor Jeb Bush last week became the latest Republican to signal a readiness to engage Democrats on what historically has been their turf, putting issues of middle-class wage stagnation, poverty and shared prosperity at the forefront of their political messages.

Bush’s framing of the economic and social challenges facing the country nearly mirrors that of likely Democratic candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton, as well as other possible contenders on the left. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) has written a book on the subject, “American Dreams: Restoring Economic Opportunity for Everyone,” to be published this week, while Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has proposed policies for distressed communities that he sees as “the ticket to the middle class.”

There are two basic approaches to income equality, middle-class stagnation, people finding it tough to break out of poverty, etc., etc. You can empower people by, chief among the remedies, getting government out of the way, or you can keep mixing and matching various redistributionist policies. If I thought Republicans were trying to come up with better conservative solutions or trying to better explaine the ones they've already embraced, I'd feel OK about this. But what they really seem to be doing is trying to sneak onto the pass-the-goodies-around playing field so long dominated by liberals. I fear that the debate I want to hear about government economic policies just ain't gonna happen. As a member of that stagnating middle class, my plea to Washington is, "Stop helping me, please, while I still have a few dollars left."