The lack of anger on display leaves an impression: Perhaps Ryan’s Medicare plan isn’t inducing mass panic as the Democrats’ Medicare plans did. (That would be something, because the Medicare spending cuts in “ObamaCare” and the reforms in Ryan’s bill are not worlds apart.) If that impression sticks, Republicans will return to Washington in May with the knowledge that the polls are a little overheated and Ryan’s budget is a go.
Where are the liberal protesters? Is there a brilliant rope-a-dope strategy in place, some plan to get Republicans even further out on a limb before hammering them in the August recess? Possibly. Labor strategists say that there’ll be a much bigger focus on generating turnout at town halls come August; Ben Smith has been reporting on their plans to nationalize the actions they pulled off in Wisconsin. There really is no larger plan in effect for now. “We’re focused on educating our members [on] the budget,” a spokesman for the AFL-CIO told me, “and not showing up at Republican town halls.” Democratic strategists say there is no larger strategy at work right now. Linda Christman, a Pennsylvania activist who started one of the only videotaped arguments with a member of Congress, was basically an independent operator. Meanwhile, the American Action Network, the think tank and campaign shop run by former Republican Sen. Norm Coleman, is making Ryan budget talking points and questions available for conservatives who want to buck up their members.