After months of speculation, it wasn’t surprising in the end that Paul Ryan chose to forgo a run for the presidency: The Janesville (Wis.) Republican has spent a career getting to the chairmanship of the influential House Ways and Means Committee and wasn’t about to risk his reputation trying to do two big things at once. The congressman decided that he couldn’t both run for president and take on the demanding job of running the powerful committee, which handles tax legislation, entitlements and health care policy. It’s a wise choice.

Despite declining to enter the presidential theater, Ryan remains one of his party’s most innovative and thoughtful voices on fiscal and economic matters. “I am where I am. I like where I am,” he told a reporter. “I feel like I can have a huge impact on the course of the debate in this country.”

We have disagreed with Ryan from time to time; we think his incessant demand to “repeal and replace” Obamacare, for example, is not only shortsighted but just plain unrealistic. It’s not going to happen anytime soon. But the congressman is a thoughtful conservative who, like his mentor, the late Jack Kemp, is an ideas machine, especially in the areas of entitlements and tax policy.

The nation’s laws in both areas need serious reform. This nation’s government has not fully accounted for the coming burden of baby boomer retirements on Medicare and Social Security, which is a fiscal tsunami against which the nation right now is not well-defended. Corporate taxes remain too high, and companies have to spend millions sorting through the dozens of loopholes to lower their effective burden to a competitive level. The tax law for individuals is nearly indecipherable. Can anyone actually do their own taxes anymore? There has to be a better way, and we hope with Ryan’s leadership, Democrats and Republicans alike can work to find it.