After beginning as an energetic participant on the Simpson-Bowles commission, he finished up as an energetic participant in the ideological stalemate that doomed its work to failure.

Some Democrats now maintain that the higher the stakes — and the closer Simpson - Bowles got to actually forging a bipartisan solution — the less flexible and more partisan Ryan became.

In terms of meaningful consequences, it is easy to sum up the work of the ۱۸ - member Simpson - Bowles group, established by President Barack Obama through an executive order and formally known as the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform: next to nil.

In a strange turnabout, however, the commission has lived larger in mythology after its demise than it ever did while doing its work. Partisans and commentators on all sides — and in particular centrists and business leaders — hail the efforts of co - chairmen Alan Simpson, a Republican, and Erskine Bowles, a Democrat, as exactly what Washington needs more of.

And they cite the inability of its recommendations — a mix of spending cuts and increased revenue proposals — to gain momentum as deplorable evidence that Obama and GOP leaders won’t put the national interest in solving the budget crisis over their own narrow partisan concerns.

Now the saintly, do - good aura that surrounds Simpson - Bowles presents an awkward challenge for Mitt Romney and his running mate. Romney is pitching Ryan as a problem solver who wants to use his command of the budget to forge bipartisan deals to solve the nation’s fiscal crisis.

But in reality, Ryan, according to the recollection of some commission members and staffers, was a key part of the dynamic that undermined the commission and allowed the triumph of partisan and ideological loyalties over a budget deal.

Under its charter, the commission needed a supermajority of ۱۴ members in order to give its formal endorsement to any recommendations. Ryan joined six other members — the dissenters came from both parties — in voting against the final proposal, with ۱۱ members in favor.

Skeptics say this record — combined with Ryan’s emphatically ideological approach as chairman of the House Budget Committee — undermines Romney’s claim in an interview on this weekend’s “۶۰ Minutes” broadcast that Ryan “is a man who’s dedicated the last ۱۴ years working in Washington in ways that are not highly partisan or political but are instead focused on the right course for America. ”

“There is not a flexibility in Paul Ryan, ” said Rep. Jan Schakowsky(D - Ill.), who served on the commission with Ryan. “He saw the problem as spending, period, end of story. It wasn’t a matter of this is a revenue proposal that I could support. ”

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad(D - N. D.) told CNBC that Ryan’s rigidity is “probably the thing that concerns me most about Paul. ”

Another Democrat, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, joked that Ryan was “willing to work across party lines on his ideas. ”

Even former Sen. Judd Gregg(R - N. H.), who was also on the panel, said Ryan didn’t shift his positions to get a deal.

"He wants to get things done but he's not going to give up his philosophical base to accomplish it,” he said. "But you don't have to if you know what you're doing and you're effective.”