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Paul Ryan's New Perch?
Some say he's retreating from the presidency, but this could be dead wrong.
The notion that Paul Ryan running to become chairman of the next Ways and Means Committee is a sign that he's backed off plans to run for president in 2016 have spread throughout the national political press, and not without reason. Heading up the committee that wades through the particulars of taxes, Medicare and Social Security has long been viewed as a poor slot for a strident reformer. The outgoing chairman, the rather nice, rather moderate U.S. Rep. Dave Camp (R-Michigan) is stepping down as he retires, and Ryan is easily the highest profile Republican left standing on the panel.

He might be an obvious pick, but ranks of named and unnamed sources have told Politico and The Hill that (1) You can't run for president while chairing Ways and Means; you'd be too busy, and (2) Ways and Means necessitates way too much compromise for a presidential contender; heading it would muddy up Ryan's record at the worst possible time. Also, Ryan has little kids; his presidential opponents would attack him as a bad daddy, and what a horror that would be.

Well, it could be that Ryan has singled out the job as a new pressure point to exploit in the web of tradition, procedure and collegial deference that is Congress. Ryan hasn't been one to relinquish his ideals. He'd rather change the terms of the conversation. If we hearken back to 2010, his Roadmap for America's Future looked like a misstep, akin to showing his hand, and now it's chapter and verse on his policy resume.

Could Ways and Means become the budget chairman's latest bully pulpit? At the heart of his budget plans are the entitlement programs that Ways and Means writes the rules for, making the committee a nice little opportunity for a man who's attempted to position himself as a sharpshooting Heartland technocrat.

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