ERIC CANTOR AND THE ETERNAL DEBATE…. House Minority Whip Eric Cantor appeared on MSNBC this morning, offering the latest in finely-tuned Republican talking points:

“Interestingly, today, Andrea, we hear the announcement that the administration is working on a second stimulus plan that could approach another $1 trillion. And in fact I think there’s an admission there that the first path that we had objected to didn’t work. And in fact the plan that I personally to President Obama was tested and our analysts told us that the predictions were we could have created twice as many jobs at half the cost.”

Those are three sentences. Each sentence is obviously false. One can debate whether Cantor was deliberately deceiving the audience or just doesn’t know what he’s talking about — the subject of an eternal debate — but either way, his comments weren’t even close to being true.

Let’s take them one at a time.

1. Did the administration announce that it’s working on a second stimulus plan? No, though I certainly hope that it is.

2. Is talk of a second stimulus an implicit concession of the first stimulus’ failure? Not in the way Cantor thinks. For one thing, the money is still headed out the door. For another, the economy is in worse shape now than when the initial debate over shaping the stimulus began. But most importantly, Cantor was certain that the stimulus was too big, when it was actually too small. Indeed, the package would have been more effective were it not for Republican demands that it shrink.

This utterly foolish lawmaker, who has literally never been right about economic policy at any point in his entire career, has the entire story backwards. And yet, Cantor, unaware of his own humiliating ignorance, believes he has the credibility necessary to criticize from a position of weakness.

3. Did Cantor offer an alternative stimulus that would have created “twice as many jobs at half the cost”? The Minority Whip claims that this was “tested,” but this isn’t even remotely true.

The other day, Josh Marshall argued that the policies coming from congressional Republicans are so transparently ridiculous that they are “simply not part of the discussion when it comes to repairing the US economy or arresting our slide into deep economic misery. And any reporters who aren’t clear about this are just lying to their readers or viewers…. It’s time to recognize that the only debate here is happening among Democrats and sundry non-affiliated sane people. The leaders of the GOP are simply not part of the conversation.”

I’d only add that they shouldn’t be part of the conversation, but yet, there they are, on national television, repeating blisteringly stupid talking points.

They’re necessarily part of the conversation — despite being hopelessly and shamelessly wrong — because no one dares shut them out.

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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.