GOP presidential candidates pick up ‘Party of No’ banner as congressional Republicans work with Obama

Coburn, for example, has continued to attempt to force the Senate to pay for spending that they are tossing onto the national debt. He introduced an amendment Wednesday to the tax deal to cut $60 billion in spending to pay for the 13-month extension of unemployment insurance in the package, which was defeated when 52 Democrats voted against it.

And Coburn voted against the final tax deal bill, immune to charges of voting for a tax increase because of his consistent and unswerving focus on spending reduction over the past year.

But the vehemence with which wide swaths of Republicans denounced even one penny of unpaid spending before November – House Minority Whip Eric Cantor went to the floor weekly to announce spending cut ideas proposed by constituents – subsided quickly with their pragmatic approach to the tax deal.

The result, so far, has been some griping on the right. Radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh was aghast after Rep. John Boehner, the soon-to-be Republican Speaker of the House, Rep. Eric Cantor, who will be House Majority Leader, and McConnell emerged from a meeting with Obama on Nov. 30 talking of finding “common ground” with the president.

“I’m just trying to remember what the Tea Party people thought they were getting with this win and what they said prior to it that they wanted. And I just don’t remember this,” Limbaugh said. “Now, I coulda been playing golf that day.”

“I don’t remember the Tea Party saying, ‘Damn it, you guys compromise and work together. We want to see you all get along, for us,'” he said. “I’ve apparently been laboring here on a total misunderstanding. I thought that the Tea Party wanted Obama stopped.”

There has also been outrage from some Tea Party groups with national profiles, but no real grassroots surge of anger. Perhaps it’s the time of year, perhaps Tea Party voters are waiting to see what happens in the months ahead, and perhaps some of them actually have a pragmatic side and are willing to settle for the tax deal.

“I agree the movement has not mustered a critical mass of demonstrative opposition,” said Bob MacGuffie, a libertarian-leaning conservative activist involved in the Connecticut Tea Party movement. “Many of us are taking this Christmas time to get our lives back in order after a 21 month marathon.”

There is the possibility that some Republicans draw the lesson from the tax deal outcome that their base has stopped watching, and that compromise with the administration is a politically viable route. MacGuffie said that if they did think that they would be making a grave mistake.

“I’m sure there are Republican blockheads who think the Tea Party isn’t watching and they’ve again got free reign,” he said in an e-mail. “The Republican House hasn’t yet been sworn in, but when they are it will be OUR tea party representatives, who WE propelled into office, whose feet will be held to the fire.”

“Should they start to compromise with the Socialist Democrats we will light up their scoreboards like nothing they’ve ever seen. Remember we have all their e-mail addresses and cell numbers.”

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