* The Economist: What if the only fiscally responsible and “courageous” budget is the one that isn’t being discussed at all?
* Steve Benen is right: Obama has clearly risen to the ideological challenge thrown down by Paul Ryan’s proposals, and has, in rhetorical terms at least, decisively answered liberals’ concerns.
* Another reason to hope the Ryan proposals are central to the 2012 elections: They could dramatize the stakes in a way that brings dispirited Dem base voters back to the polls.
* Susan Collins becomes the first GOP Senator to come out against the Ryan plan.
* Jared Bernstein leaves, and the exodus of those who were making the liberal economic case inside the White House continues.
Key takeaway: His departure symbolizes the degree to which the idea of more government spending on job creation has completely vanished from the conversation.
* Jed Lewison gets this right: No one is saying there shouldn’t be a national debate about fiscal issues. Rather, the point is that there should also be a national debate about job creation.
* Debunking of the day: Only the rich pay taxes.
* Bonus debunking of the day: The tax system badly screws the rich.
* Good line from Jason Linkins on how the left will have trouble ginning up town-hall Medicare outrage without Fox: “Anti-Ryan town hall rage suffers from a hype deficit.”
* What does John Ensign’s retirement mean for Sharron Angle’s chances of winning a House seat, and thereby negating her need to resort to Second Amendment remedies? Rachel Weiner explains all.
* Democrats are now raising cash off the birther bills marching forward in GOP-controlled state legislatures, which suggests a new level of national awareness about the pervasiveness of GOP birtherism.
* Important but infuriating read from Glenn Greenwald on Obama’s “Nobel peace drones.”
* Digby on how the Dems’ capitulation to Beltway deficit fever isn’t just bad politics, but may also induce them to let the country down in substantive policy terms, too.
* Donald Trump sends Salon’s Justin Elliott a handwritten note promising to reveal his net worth — if he runs. The suggestion that Trump is reluctant to divulge his true worth is apparently a point of great sensitivity with the fellow.
* And Trump calls Charles Krauthammer to discuss his presidential candidacy, and leaves Krauthammer absolutely convinced that he’s running. Guess it’s on!
What else is happening?
UPDATE: As promised, here is the statement from Senate Dems on the Ryan plan’s inclusion of a debt ceiling hike.