Sen. Rand Paul, who came to Congress by beating a K Street-backed Republican in the 2010 primary, sounds the same note. “Instead of just talking about welfare to poor people,” Paul told me Wednesday, “we oughta be talking about corporate welfare.”

Corporate welfare was the dog that didn’t bark in this year’s elections. “One of the things that got the Tea Party excited was opposition to the bank bailout,” Paul said. “That sort of became a nonissue for us because Gov. Romney supported the bank bailout.”

The current lame-duck session of Congress provides a few opportunities for House and Senate Republicans to stake out free-market, populist ground.

Sugar subsidies, bank bailouts and special tax credits for well-connected industries will be on the table between now and the end of the year. In every case, the limited-government position is also the anti-big business position.