Charles Dharapak/AP Photo
2. Rep. Paul Ryan (R) of Wisconsin
As chairman of the Budget Committee – and the House GOP’s top idea man on the debt, deficits, and the economy – Representative Ryan plays a key role in meeting the new majority’s campaign pledges to cut spending and grow the economy.
Only 17 House Re-pub-licans signed onto Ryan’s signature “Road-map for America’s Future,” a plan that would shift Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid toward the private sector. But House GOP leaders gave the budget chairman unprecedented power to set the top limit for federal spending for the balance of fiscal year 2011.
His biggest test will come with the FY 2012 budget, which will be Exhibit A in the GOP leadership’s case to the insurgent freshman class that the House got the message of the 2010 campaign to cut the size of government.