Mitt Romney won Maryland, D.C. and Wisconsin, then delivered a speech that began lifelessly when he said Paul Ryan won’t ever replace Ann when it comes to introductions. But the end of his remarks held something on which the team could build. Mr. Romney talked about “the dreamers,” though it’s too bad he can’t play the Beatles in the background.

But the news today was made earlier by Paul Ryan in a way that made you wonder what might have been.

Pres. Obama went after the Ryan budget as “thinly veiled social Darwinism.” Paul Ryan shot back that the President was being “desperate and demagogic.”

Mitt Romney was well out of range, which shows you where the fight really is this year and the limitations of the inevitable nominee.

The best part of Mitt Romney’s remarks after his hat trick win on Tuesday night:

[…] Out-of-touch liberals like Barack Obama say they want a strong economy, but they really don’t like businesses very much. But the economy is simply the product of all the nation’s businesses added together. So it’s like saying you love omelets but don’t like eggs.

To build a strong economy that provides good jobs and rising wages and that reduces poverty, we need to build successful businesses of every kind imaginable. And President Obama has been attacking successful businesses of every kind imaginable.

We have always been the country where dreamers build dreams and where one dream helps launch another. And if those dreamers are rewarded with prosperity, we view that as a reason others would be encouraged to dream big as well.

These last few years have been difficult, made worse by mistakes and failures of leadership.

But if the hill before us is a little steeper we have always been a nation of big steppers.

In this last year, I have been all over this country, from student union cafeterias to kitchen tables, from factory break rooms to boardrooms, and I’ve heard frustration and anger but rarely hopelessness. Many Americans have given up on this President but they haven’t ever thought about giving up. Not on themselves. Not on each other. And not on America.

Rick Santorum spoke before Romney and continued talking about Ronald Reagan, a man who couldn’t win the nomination today. It’s obvious he’s trying to draw a parallel to 1976, preparing for 2016. The man won’t know what hit him in the field that awaits in four years.

But the Reagan line is old, something I’ve said long before Pres. Obama uttered the words earlier today, at the AP editors luncheon, which Howard Fineman covered if you’re looking for the insider view. From the AP:

Think about that. Ronald Reagan, who, as I recall, is not accused of being a tax-and-spend socialist, understood repeatedly that when the deficit started to get out of control, that for him to make a deal he would have to propose both spending cuts and tax increases. Did it multiple times. He could not get through a Republican primary today. – Pres. Obama

More of what Pres. Obama said at the AP luncheon today:

Now, the proponents of this budget will tell us we have to make all these draconian cuts because our deficit is so large; this is an existential crisis, we have to think about future generations, so on and so on. And that argument might have a shred of credibility were it not for their proposal to also spend $4.6 trillion over the next decade on lower tax rates.

We’re told that these tax cuts will supposedly be paid for by closing loopholes and eliminating wasteful deductions. But the Republicans in Congress refuse to list a single tax loophole they are willing to close. Not one. And by the way, there is no way to get even close to $4.6 trillion in savings without dramatically reducing all kinds of tax breaks that go to middle-class families — tax breaks for health care, tax breaks for retirement, tax breaks for homeownership.

Meanwhile, these proposed tax breaks would come on top of more than a trillion dollars in tax giveaways for people making more than $250,000 a year. That’s an average of at least $150,000 for every millionaire in this country — $150,000.

Let’s just step back for a second and look at what $150,000 pays for: A year’s worth of prescription drug coverage for a senior citizen. Plus a new school computer lab. Plus a year of medical care for a returning veteran. Plus a medical research grant for a chronic disease. Plus a year’s salary for a firefighter or police officer. Plus a tax credit to make a year of college more affordable. Plus a year’s worth of financial aid. One hundred fifty thousand dollars could pay for all of these things combined — investments in education and research that are essential to economic growth that benefits all of us. For $150,000, that would be going to each millionaire and billionaire in this country. This budget says we’d be better off as a country if that’s how we spend it.

This is supposed to be about paying down our deficit? It’s laughable.

The bipartisan Simpson-Bowles commission that I created…

…and it’s at Simpson-Bowles where he lost me, so you can imagine how I felt when I read this:

For generations, nearly all of these investments — from transportation to education to retirement programs — have been supported by people in both parties. As much as we might associate the G.I. Bill with Franklin Roosevelt, or Medicare with Lyndon Johnson, it was a Republican, Lincoln, who launched the Transcontinental Railroad, the National Academy of Sciences, land grant colleges. It was Eisenhower who launched the Interstate Highway System and new investment in scientific research. It was Richard Nixon who created the Environmental Protection Agency, Ronald Reagan who worked with Democrats to save Social Security. It was George W. Bush who added prescription drug coverage to Medicare.

The obsession of Pres. Obama and his team to whine about the demise of bipartisanship is not only a waste of time, but it’s how his health care bill got stuck in a long winding legal battle that now has him in a public spat with the Supreme Court, but also in a tussle about the power of the courts.

Here’s an update from the CBS report, which has the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit challenging Pres. Obama on what he said recently about SCOTUS overturning ACA.

In the hearing, Judge Smith says the president’s comments suggesting courts lack power to set aside federal laws “have troubled a number of people” and that the suggestion “is not a small matter.”

The bottom line from Smith: A three-page letter with specifics. He asked DOJ to discuss “judicial review, as it relates to the specific statements of the president, in regard to Obamacare and to the authority of the federal courts to review that legislation.”

“I would like to have from you by noon on Thursday — that’s about 48 hours from now — a letter stating what is the position of the Attorney General and the Department of Justice, in regard to the recent statements by the president,” Smith said. “What is the authority is of the federal courts in this regard in terms of judicial review?”

That Pres. Obama will be uncomfortable with being confronted by the Appeals Court is unquestionable. That he’s also worried about Romney calling him a “liberal” is obvious. If Romney would keep hitting that nerve he could rattle Obama, because it’s something that would actually bother him.

Romney’s got other worries. With little lift, his team needs to mine “the dreamers” aspect of what he said after his wins on Tuesday.

I’m not sure what Pres. Obama’s plan is right now, except to extol the ways Republicans once utilized government’s power, while lamenting the current crop of Republicans won’t.

It’s not a year that is shaping up to enthuse liberals.

Romney’s got the same issue on the conservative right, unless he picks someone for vice president from their bench, which is why Paul Ryan should be on everyone’s short list.