Expect much wailing and gnashing of teeth from the other side now that it has passed. And expect Ryan’s plan to die in the Democratic Senate. Because we just can’t afford not to federally fund cowboy poetry, can we?

Passage by the Republican-led House was assured, but the Ryan plan faces near-certain death in the Senate, where Democrats hold the majority. Still, the Wisconsin congressman’s blueprint defines the Republicans’ position in a battle with Obama and Democrats that will resonate through the 2012 elections.

House Speaker John Boehner called the Ryan plan “a serious step in the right direction” on Friday morning and said Congress owes it to the American people to cut spending and save Medicare and Medicaid.

The battle lines are drawn. Republicans are serious enough about dealing with the deficit crisis to put themselves on the record supporting a real plan to deal with it, while the Democrats are content to defend every last partisan cent of federal largesse, even though it’s leading to national catastrophe. It’s also clear that Rep. Paul Ryan is far more presidential than the actual, petulant, venal and unserious president.