Video: Ryan takes over Ways and Means

It’s “the single most important committee in Congress,” one former Representative tells WTMJ in Milwaukee, with its fingers in practically everything the federal government does. Tax reform? Ways and Means. Health care? Social Security? Ways and Means. And now the most visionary of the Republican fiscal reformers will chair the panel as all of these issues come to a head in the final two years of the Obama administration:

Ryan already is taking aim in all of these areas in his statement yesterday after winning the post in the House Republican leadership discussions:

Ryan, the GOP’s 2012 vice presidential nominee, has finally gotten a hold of a gavel he’s long sought and will head a committee that has jurisdiction over items — like the tax code, Medicare and Medicaid — that the Wisconsin Republican has overhauled in his budget blueprints.

Ryan told reporters on Tuesday that Camp “did a great job of raising the bar of what a successful Ways and Means chair looks like” and that he wanted to “utilize the strength of all our committee members.”

In a separate statement, Ryan said that the Ways and Means panel would be front-and-center as Republicans try to jumpstart an anemic recovery that has left many voters uneasy about the economy.

“We will work together to fix the tax code, hold the IRS accountable, strengthen Medicare and Social Security, repair the safety net, promote job-creating trade agreements, and determine how best to repeal and replace ObamaCare with patient-centered solutions,” Ryan said.

Tax reform has already been mentioned as a possible area of bipartisan action in the 114th Session. Republicans want far-reaching changes to both the corporate and individual income tax systems, considering the highly-leveraged status quo a major hindrance to job creation and real recovery. Ryan has a history of both bold proposals and bipartisan compromise to move legislation, the latter of which was more difficult when Democrats controlled the Senate and Ryan had to work with Patty Murray. This time, Ryan can work with a Republican to move his reform ideas, which will be Senator Orrin Hatch of Finance, who will take the gavel from Ron Wyden in January.

What about Ryan’s presidential aspirations? “One thing at a time,” Ryan said yesterday, but the platform could be both a boost and an anchor on those ambitions. It gives him a great platform on which to project himself if he can get a major reform tax bill passed, and especially if it gets signed into law. However, the compromises needed to get to that conclusion could dim support for Ryan, and the work needed to make law might be too much of a distraction in the months leading up to the presidential primaries. It would probably take until at least late summer to get a major reform of either tax system through the House and Senate, and longer if Ryan and Hatch try to tackle both systems. In the meantime, Ryan will also be fighting on the front lines of ObamaCare, and at the same time picking up the reins from Dave Camp on the IRS probe.

One thing at a time, indeed.