By Felicia Sonmez
The Washington Post
WASHINGTON — It was one year ago today that the deficit reduction congressional supercommittee announced the Grand Failure that led to the looming fiscal cliff.
Washington was awash in disappointment and frustration at the budget negotiators who could not come to an agreement on reducing the deficit.
The one budget heavyweight seemingly unaffected was Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis. Ryan, who earlier had been mulling a presidential bid and who dismissed the supercommittee’s chances so long as President Barack Obama was in office, opted out of service on the panel.
Now, as leaders on Capitol Hill and the White House work to head off the across-the-board budget cuts generated by the supercommittee’s failure, Ryan finds himself central to the process and facing a different set of complications.
Ryan must now grapple with the consequences of a much higher profile after being selected as the 2012 Republican vice presidential nominee, in part because of his reputation as a budget cutter and spending reformer.
Many Republicans say Ryan’s new prominence makes his involvement in the upcoming fiscal cliff negotiations inevitable.
“Republicans want their best players on the field during the fiscal cliff conversation,” said Ron Bonjean, a GOP strategist and Capitol Hill veteran. “If Paul Ryan decided not to participate, it would squander his political capital rather than enhance it. . . . He talked so often during the campaign about the country heading toward fiscal ruin, and now he has an opportunity to engage and influence where the fiscal cliff goes.”
Last week, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, tapped Ryan and two other top committee heads — Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., and Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich. — to take part in the House GOP leadership’s daily management meetings.