Representative Paul Ryan's long-shot presidential aspirations weren't helped by the budget deal he crafted with Democratic Senator Patty Murray this week. The agreement is already drawing fire from movement conservatives.
For now, the Wisconsin Republican, and 2012 vice-presidential nominee, has his sights set on becoming the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee in the next Congress. The current chairman, Representative Dave Camp of Michigan, has to step aside under the party's term-limit rules.
If Ryan took over the tax writing committee, it would be almost impossible for him to turn around, only months later, and run for president. In addition, he would almost certainly have to pledge to party leaders that he wouldn't run for president if he receives the committee chairmanship.
The budget compromise further complicates Ryan's presidential ambitions. The deal, which still faces a tough slog in the House, has infuriated some anti-government conservatives and would be used against Ryan in any Republican presidential contest. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, a likely presidential aspirant, came out against the deal almost immediately after it was announced.
But at age 43, Ryan could have plenty of options in the years ahead. Still, Ryan enjoys being a legislator, which isn't the best calling card for national ambitions.
(Albert R. Hunt is a Bloomberg View columnist. Follow him on Twitter.)