WHAT IS TIM PAWLENTY TALKING ABOUT?…. The latest “what do we do now?” piece for the Republican Party comes from Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R), who outlined his Big Idea in a piece for the Politico yesterday. It’s right up there among the most ridiculous pieces I’ve seen in a long while.

Pawlenty, considered something of a “rising star” in Republican politics, believes the financial crisis we’re facing is the result of excessive debt. So, in order for the GOP to “again become the national majority party,” the party must take a firm stand against “recklessly issuing even more debt.”

In his bid to become the poster child of Neo-Hooverism, Pawlenty believes the Republican Party should respond to the recession by pushing … wait for it … a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.

Republicans should push for the enactment of an amendment to the United States Constitution requiring a balanced federal budget. This initiative is based on the common sense, kitchen table logic that most Americans and businesses live by. They expect the same from their government but haven’t been getting it lately.

Passing this amendment will be no small task…. Getting it done will require a two-thirds vote by both houses of Congress, followed by ratification by three-fourths of the states.

While daunting, this effort will unify and energize Republicans. It will require the GOP at all levels to be engaged in a common sense agenda that is compelling, conservative and that will positively transform America.

This is so blisteringly stupid, I find it hard to believe an elected official would actually put his name on it. Maybe the Politico is playing a practical joke on Pawlenty, in the hopes of making him appear like a fool.

I honestly don’t know where to begin in responding to such an insane policy prescription. The first point, of course, is that trying to balance the budget in the midst of a financial crisis is the exact opposite of what every sane person realizes we need — a government stimulus to help spur the economy. Why would Pawlenty recommend slashing hundreds of billions of dollars in government spending right now?

Second, that the Minnesota governor sees a similarity between an individual family’s budget and that of the United States government suggests he has a child-like understanding of economic basics. As Publius recently explained: “The micro-considerations of an individual family or business has nothing much to do with what governments need to do to get the larger economy moving again. Even worse, it’s often affirmatively harmful to adopt microeconomic solutions to macroeconomic problems.”

If Pawlenty is a rising star in the Republican Party, the GOP’s future is painfully bleak. This piece suggests Pawlenty looked back at the Great Depression, and became convinced that Hoover was right.

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Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.