By David Von Drehle on Paul Ryan, Time's Runner-up Person of the Year, Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2011
Here's a curious fact: in a year of political gridlock, when Congress could get nothing done — not even pass a budget — the most influential American politician was House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan. Through a combination of hard work, good timing and possibly suicidal guts, the Wisconsin Republican managed to harness his party to a dramatic plan for dealing with America's rapidly rising public debt. He brought an ugly issue out of the foggy realm of think tanks and blue-ribbon panels and dropped it into the middle of the national debate in time to define the next presidential election. If 2012 turns out to be a clear choice between very different answers to a genuinely important question — instead of the usual vague contest between competing slogans and haircuts — give the credit to Ryan.
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