Both Boehner, in an interview with Fox News Channel, and McConnell, in a speech to the Heritage Foundation, emphasized that their party would focus on job creation, deficit reduction and the repeal of the health-care law — and little else — when the 112th Congress convenes next year.

“It’s my view that Americans are no more interested in a Republican platform for using government to re-engineer society than they were in the Democratic plan to do so,” said McConnell. “Republicans will focus on doing a few things and doing them well.”

“They want us to stop spending,” said Boehner of the American public. “And it’s going to be our principal goal.”

The relative limited scope of Republicans’ ambitions stands in stark contrast to the approach taken by the party following the 1994 elections that restored the GOP to majority status in the House and Senate.