Did anyone think the release of Mitt Romney's tax returns would satisfy Democrats and make them focus on the real issues in this campaign, including President Obama's failed domestic and foreign policy record and approaching massive tax increases? If so, please call me for a great deal on Arizona swampland.
The Obama campaign's deputy manager, Stephanie Cutter, accused Romney of taking advantage of lower tax rates for capital gains available only to "those at the top." Is Cutter saying Romney is wrong to obey tax law? The tax code is a mess. It, not Romney, should be the object of scorn. (And by the way, Americans with average incomes can benefit from lower capital gains taxes if they make good investments.)
Now that we know Romney paid a considerable amount of tax last year and in previous years, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid should apologize for his comment about an unnamed "source" he claimed told him Romney paid no taxes for a decade. After Romney released his returns, instead of apologizing, Reid tried a new tack. "The information released today reveals that Mitt Romney manipulated one of the only two years of tax returns he's seen fit to show the American people," Reid said in a statement. "And then only to 'conform' with his public statements. That raises the question: What else in those returns has Romney manipulated?" Reid, of course, still has not released his 2011 tax returns. Is he hiding something? Suppose a "source" told me so?
I don't care how much, or how little, the Romneys pay in taxes. I do care, and so should voters, about government overspending and a national debt that now tops $16 trillion dollars.
I don't care how much money anyone makes and neither should voters. Voters should be concerned only about whether they have the opportunity to make a decent living without having to depend on government. I do care -- and so should voters -- that our future is being mortgaged to pay for "entitlements" and huge interest payments on long-term debt that are greater than the gross domestic product of some countries.
Before leaving Washington to campaign for re-election, members of the Senate passed one of those stopgap spending bills, ensuring government paychecks will continue to go out. It ends what many regard as one of the least productive legislative sessions in U.S. history; not necessarily a bad thing when you consider the damage Congress might have caused were it not for a Republican House crying, "No!" Voters should also recall the numerous bills passed by the House and ignored in the Democrat-controlled Senate.
In the first presidential debate, scheduled for Oct. 3, Romney must show a part of himself no one has yet seen and perhaps not even he knows exists. He should remind Americans of their history of self-reliance, personal responsibility and accountability. When government replaces those virtues with entitlements and dependency it diminishes and weakens the nation.
Government is supposed to be of, by and for the people, not in spite of the people. It is "we the people," not you the government. It is the people who grant power to those who govern. It is not the government, or any politician, who has the constitutional right to limit our freedoms and shackle us to Washington.
Quote Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln, Mitt. Quote Reagan. Remind people why the Democrats lost control of the House in 1994 and again in 2010. It makes no sense to vote for conservatives in one election and then vote for a liberal in another.
Four years ago, a majority of Americans were seduced by Obama's soaring and messianic rhetoric. It's time for us to embrace what our parents and grandparents tried to hand down to us: individual responsibility and a sense of caring for each other. If Romney makes that case in this "entitlement nation," he could win. If not, we're finished, and what Romney paid in taxes will matter even less than it should now.
Examiner Columnist Cal Thomas is nationally syndicated by Tribune Media.