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Michael Zimmer: Country in need of course correction

Jonah Goldberg wrote a guest column in USA Today this week on the subject of income inequality. I found it to be a rather thoughtful piece. It even rated on-air discussion on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" show Tuesday.

Goldberg's opening two lines let you know his perspective right from the start: "Democrats are revving up for a huge national 'conversation' on income inequality. This is in no small part because the Obama administration and congressional Democrats would rather talk about anything other than Obamacare."

I suspect Goldberg is partially correct on the motive in avoiding discussion of the roll out of the Affordable Care Act, but my assumption is that Democrats view issues like extending unemployment benefits and raising the minimum wage as winning political issues on any given occasion.

In Goldberg's view, "liberals see income as a public good that is distributed like crayons in a kindergarten class." Under such thinking, if someone ends up with fewer resources, there must be someone else or some system to blame for such an outcome because of an improper distribution.

For Goldberg, conservatives view inequality as a more concrete type of problem. It could indicate a sign of declining wages or poor job creation. "In other words, liberals tend to see income inequality as the disease, and conservatives tend to see it as a symptom."

On Tuesday, the U.S. Senate overcame a filibuster vote on a bill to extend unemployment benefits for three months. On Monday this topic was discussed in the panel discussion of Fox News' Special Report.

Commentator Brit Hume remarked that the President's advocacy of this bill amounted to "an extraordinary acknowledgement of failure by the president and his party."

The plan by the Democrats would seem to be making the Republicans the bad guys for standing in the way of helping people in need. That approach worked out just fine for the president's re-election effort.

At some point the American people may not look so kindly on all the handouts, and prefer instead a hand up via a growing, vibrant economy.

President John F. Kennedy is credited with the phrase, "a rising tide lifts all boats." Wouldn't win-win economic solutions be preferable to merely spreading around limited resources?

The prospect for business owners to invest in new jobs, locations or equipment must be daunting in light of the uncertainties we've seen the last few years. We've seen uncertainty associated with health-care costs, tax rates and regulatory burdens.

It would not surprise me to see Republicans in Congress go along with parts of the president's agenda, even if they don't believe it would help the economy. I'd imagine many Republicans want to try to narrow the midterm elections of November to be simply a referendum on Obamacare.

Under this approach, Congressional Republicans would have to give the president a series of victories on smaller items. Such an approach would not prevent the president from campaigning against Republicans. It may have the effect of causing the GOP faithful to limit their turnout in November.

My advice to Republicans in office is to vote for policies in which they truly believe. Oppose the president on the basis of substance. Voters deserve a clear choice. The country could definitely use some course corrections on a host of topics.

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