Here was one of the largest GOP classes in memory, steadfast in its determination to shake up the nation’s capital. Two years later, its members watched as Congress ratified a deal backed by President Obama that allowed taxes to increase for affluent Americans–the first significant income-tax hike in two decades.

“If this is how we end the 112th Congress, it will disappoint every member of the class,” said freshman Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., as he munched on Cheetos and walking alone after a GOP conference meeting on Tuesday. “This is exactly what we came to change, problems like this.… We came here to make big bold changes, and at the end of the day, for whatever reason, we frittered away most of the energy that sent us to here in 2010.” …

Many of the new members vowed not to raise the debt ceiling without big cuts in the federal budget. It was raised anyway. They argued that the payroll-tax holiday that was enacted to combat the recession should not be extended into 2012 without offsetting budget cuts. It was extended by unanimous consent in the House as 2011 came to an end. They argued that the people’s business should be done in the open, not in backrooms. But they watched, largely on the sidelines, as House Speaker John Boehner negotiated with President Obama, followed by Vice President Biden striking a deal with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.