WHY BOEHNER REJECTS STATE AID…. Congressional Republicans have reportedly “taken issue with the large chunk of funding in the stimulus package — some $300 billion all told — that will go to shore up the budgets of states.” Matt Yglesias notes how ridiculous this is.

I’m pretty impressed with John Boehner’s ability to zero in like a laser on the least-defensible possible position…. In the serious-people universe, [assisting with state budgets] is the least controversial form of federal outlay. The idea is merely to prevent overall public spending from dropping too precipitously at a time when state budget cuts would have a contractionary impact. […]

One of the privileges of opposition, of course, is that you don’t really need to take responsibility for the consequences of your views. So if Boehner wants to take this line, nothing will really stop him or pull him back to planet earth. But it should be seen for what it is.

Quite right. But how, exactly, did Republicans end up taking this position? I suspect a poll told them they could get away with it.

Gallup recently conducted a survey gauging support for various stimulus proposals. The single most popular idea was creating new jobs with “major new government spending on the nation’s infrastructure,” which found 78% support. The least popular idea was “providing federal money to state governments that are facing budget shortfalls,” which generated 49% support.

Much of the public appears to be wrong on this, but Americans haven’t heard much as of yet on why aid to states matters. Boehner & Co., however, don’t really have an excuse.

It seems as if their goal is to find a politically palatable way to oppose an economic rescue plan in the midst of a deep recession. They are, in other words, looking for credible excuse to say, “No.” If Gallup says the public is cold on state aid, then it offers the GOP cover to oppose the most “unpopular” part of the plan, whether it’s a good idea or not.

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.