Tea Partiers helped the GOP seize control of the House of Representatives — now Republicans leaders must figure out how to keep the hardline fiscal conservatives in their midst happy. (Watch a Fox News discussion about the GOP and Tea Party.) But how can mainstream Republicans do that without surrendering the reins to Tea Party newcomers who are eager to "flex their muscles in the new Congress"? Here are five theories:
1. Reach out to conservative reformers
Incoming House Speaker John Boehner has to "draw the ultimate outsiders into the fold" to tamp down infighting as Republicans take on "messy" spending issues, say Marin Cogan and Jake Sherman at Politico. The congressman is likely to "float Tea Party names" for committee chairmanships, and is making it clear to reformers that they have his ear. "They've called several times," newly-elected Tea Party conservative Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) said of Boehner's office. "Their outreach to me has been excellent."
"John Boehner offers sweeteners to Tea Party"
2. Launch a war on pork
Banning earmarks is a quick way to show Tea Partiers some love, says Ben Adler at Newsweek. Boehner should be able to get the House GOP caucus to agree to forego pork-barrel spending, which allows politicians to funnel taxpayer money into their home districts for pet projects. But some Republicans in the Senate aren't so keen on an earmarks ban, which could lead to "tension" with Tea Party senators like Jim DeMint and Rand Paul.
"Tea Party pressuring Senate Republicans to ban earmarks"
3. Create a leadership job for a Tea Partier
Boehner may have "hit on a solution" on how to bring newly-elected fiscal conservatives into the fold, says Greg Sargent at The Washington Post. He reportedly plans to create "a new leadership post: Representative of the incoming freshman class." Only newcomers will be able to vote to fill this spot, and if someone like high-profile Tea Party champion Rep. Kristi Noem (R-SD) wins, "it could satisfy the Tea Party's demands for some kind of representation within the leadership."
"GOP leadership creating new post for freshmen GOPers — may be occupied by Tea Partier"
4. Meet with the Tea Party caucus
Tea Party favorite Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) may have dropped her bid for a leadership post, says Lisa Lerer at BusinessWeek, but "her stock is up." Her Tea Party caucus, which she started in July, already has 53 members and "could swell to more than 80 when 28 or so Tea Party-backed freshmen arrive in January." Bachmann "wants respect," and paying attention to her caucus might be just the ticket.
"Michele Bachmann is demanding a little more respect"
5. Just stand up for conservative ideals
Republican leaders believe they can represent Tea Party interests without twisting themselves into knots, says James A. Barnes at National Journal. In fact, 92 percent of Republicans said their current House leadership should have no problem keeping the Tea Party happy, according to a National Journal poll. "The Tea Party is about economic discipline and individual liberty," said one GOP insider. "If we can't be their champions we should quit."
"GOP Insiders: House leaders can speak for Tea Party"