Mitt Romney’s hysteria-inducing comments aside, he has a fundamental advantage in the case he is making to voters. Gallup reports that, by a 54 percent to 39 percent margin, voters think government is trying to do much, as opposed to not doing enough:

Only a few times in Gallup’s 20-year history of asking this question has a higher percentage of Americans said the government should do more to solve the nation’s problems than said the government is doing too much. Two of these were in the fall of 1992 and again in early 1993, as Bill Clinton ran for and took office as president. Another was in October 2001, just after the 9/11 terrorist attacks and at a time when Americans were especially supportive of government and its efforts to help the nation recover from the attacks and retaliate against those who were responsible.

Americans have been most likely to say the government was attempting to do too much during the middle years of the Clinton administration, and in recent years during the Obama administration

Most significantly, we learn: “More than six in 10 independents agree that the government is doing too much.”

It is therefore not surprising that, in Romney's effort to sharpen his message, he is going right at the size and irresponsibility of government. His latest ad on the topic was released today:

It is here that Romney can strike a chord both with his base and with moderates who remain greatly troubled by the growth in spending and the debt. Obama’s failure to address this issue, and his desire to grow the size of government with big increases in discretionary spending and his prized Obamacare, are liabilities with voters beyond his base.

That, at bottom, was what the debt-ceiling fight was all about. Obama insists on raising more revenue to help pay for more spending. Republicans refuse to take even more money out of the private sector to pay for Obama’s expanded welfare state.

Romney has a powerful argument that Obama’s spending increases and $5 trillion in new debt haven’t helped (and have, in fact, dragged down) the economy. He now has to make the case that, if voters want a government that reasonably lives within its means and does not consume an ever greater share of the economy, they will need a new president.