Yesterday evening, Mitt Romney threw down a gauntlet for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who had accused him of committing federal crimes in a Senate floor speech. The money quote -- "put up or shut up," Harry:
This is a strong response from Romney for several reasons. First, he blasts Nevada's dimmest bulb for his craven and fact-free accusations. Then, just to be clear, he categorically denies the Majority Leader's evidence-free conjecture. Finally, he transitions quickly into a broad-based attack on the president -- whose bidding Harry Reid is carrying out -- noting that Obama and his allies don't want to talk about issues that really matter to the future of the country. Like, for instance, this. Or this. For his part, Reid is mindlessly marching ahead with his moronic "scoop:"
As I said before, I was told by an extremely credible source that Romney has not paid taxes for ten years. People who make as much money as Mitt Romney have many tricks at their disposal to avoid paying taxes. We already know that Romney has exploited many of these loopholes, stashing his money in secret, overseas accounts in places like Switzerland and the Cayman Islands.
The identity of this "extremely credible source" remains a mystery, of course. Reid initially said that his source was a Bain executive. As CNN and others have observed, Bain employees would have no access to Romney's personal tax records, so the allegation isn't even plausible. Reid later said that he had multiple sources who passed along this information. Now it appears that he's back to just one secret informant. Keep it up, Harry. You're not helping.
UPDATE - This is wild: Conservative blogger "DrewM" over at Ace of Spades sent an inquiry to Reid's office about a confabulated "rumor" that the Senator is a pederast (a grown man who has sex with young boys). Drew asked Reid's office to provide evidence that he isn't one; holding Reid to the same standard of proof he's established for Romney, to make a point. Unbelievably, a Reid staffer actually replied to the request with a one-word email: "Cute." As Drew points out, this isn't a denial.
UPDATE II - Someone with authentic insight into Romney's tax returns -- one of John McCain's VP vetters -- joins the fray:
So what about the years before 2009? We know he turned over more than two decades of returns to the McCain campaign during the veepstakes vetting process. What was in them? “Mitt’s taxes were complex, but clean. He overpaid his taxes. An honest appraisal would find nothing to criticize, though Romney’s staff, for better or worse, doesn’t seem to trust the returns to be honestly appraised by the media,” says a source closely familiar with the 2008 vetting process. “To be clear, there’s stuff in the tax returns the dishonest or ignorant can snark at, though it pretty much comes down to criticizing Romney for being rich.
So, how about that unemployment rate, and Obama's solutions to create jobs? Today, he again called for tax increases on job creators, saying that this would be "patriotic." I guess we can afford to shed 710,000 jobs; it's not like unemployment is rising or anything.
Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).
Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography