It's an odd-numbered year, which means this is when something might get done in Washington before next year's elections shut everything down.
Mitt Romney selected Ryan as his running mate for a reason: For several years, Ryan has been the Republicans' intellectual leader.
While many in Washington have ignored the country's fiscal problems, Ryan has been crafting solutions. His proposal to fund private Medicare plans with government support became the Republican Party's blueprint for a time.
But Ryan has also proven to be a flexible thinker who can work with both sides of the aisle. When his Medicare proposal ran into a brick wall, he worked with Rep. Ron Wyden, a liberal Democrat from Oregon, to give seniors the option to stay in traditional Medicare or choose a private plan.
Ryan's other strength is that he can go where Speaker of the House John Boehner cannot. Thanks to the political stances Ryan has taken these past few years, his conservative credentials are unassailable.
This is the guy who might make Obama's second term something less than a colossal failure. He's smart, he's a leader and he wants to solve problems.
Without backing off his conservative ideals, he lately has been conciliatory when talking about the Obama administration. He might could broker deals on issues such as the budget and immigration reform.
Unfortunately, Obama has failed to take advantage of the opportunity Ryan presents.
In early 2010, the president had kind words for the congressman at a House Republican retreat and signed an autograph for Ryan's young daughter. But in April 2011, he launched an attack on Ryan's budget plan during a speech at George Washington University while Ryan sat in the front row. Ryan had come to the speech thinking Obama was about to begin engaging in a dialogue that ultimately might lead somewhere. Instead, he was forced to sit in his little chair while the president of the United States stood above him speaking behind the presidential seal.
The irony is, if Obama wants to get anything done in his second term, he probably could work with Ryan better than he can with his own party, at least on some issues.
Recently, 107 of the 200 House Democrats wrote Obama a letter demanding no cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security benefits — none, zero, nada, not even for Donald Trump — despite the fact that those programs are unsustainable, absent reform. Obama knows the math doesn't add up. Many in his own party don't. Ryan does.
Recently, Obama has shown an understanding that he can't simply dictate policy from the White House. He's been meeting with key Republican leaders, including Sen John McCain. On March 7, Ryan dined at the White House along with the Democrats' top Budget Committee member, Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland.
Obama and Ryan are very different individuals with different belief systems. They will not be the 2013 version of Bill Clinton-Newt Gingrich, two political opponents who proved able to work together to balance the budget and reform welfare. They may not even be Ronald Reagan-Tip O'Neill, who blasted each other in public but seemed to get along privately and whose deal extended the life of Social Security.
But the two could help ensure that 2013 is not a lost year. That would be good for the country, because on some issues, we don't have two years to wait.
Fox News commentator Noelle Nikpour is completing her first book, "Branding of America." Follow her on Twitter at @NoelleNikpour and respond to this column at firstname.lastname@example.org.