REDISCOVERING THEIR LOVE OF STIMULUS…. Over the last couple of months, we’ve learned a few tenets of Republican thinking that are, to the GOP, fundamental truths. Government spending, for example, does not create jobs and cannot stimulate the economy. What’s more, the only thing worse than government spending is government spending on unnecessary programs. It has always been thus; it will always be so.

Sen. Saxby Chambliss, a conservative Georgia Republican, has been pretty consistent on these points. His approach to the economy is strikingly incoherent, but at least everyone knew exactly where Chambliss stood — we can’t stimulate the economy with government spending, and wasteful spending is manifestly repulsive.

That is, until this week, when Chambliss suddenly changed his mind. Brian Beutler reports that the Georgian called into NPR yesterday and “argued that there’s no better way to create jobs (read: stimulate the economy) than…with government spending.” Chambliss said:

“Well listen, the jobs are important any time, whether you’re in a fiscal crisis or not. But now, when we’re in these very difficult times, certainly it’s even more important.

“I’ve been an advocate not just of spending more money on the F-22 but on — when it comes to stimulating the economy, there’s no better way to do it than to spend it in the defense community.”

Let’s all welcome Sen. Chambliss to the Big Government Club. It’s a delight to see such a far-right lawmaker embrace the notion that government spending stimulates the economy, and I can only assume that Americans can count on his support — from now on — on economic recovery efforts.

I should, of course, acknowledge the inverse of this, which the Weekly Standard‘s Michael Goldfarb touched on yesterday: if liberals like government spending so much, why would they support the Gates restructuring plan that scraps spending on a variety of military programs?

The answer, of course, is that those who approve of Gates’ plan are endorsing sensible government spending. The administration wants to spend an additional $21 billion on the military over Bush’s last budget, focusing those investments to address modern national security challenges. Gates’ blueprint identifies spending we don’t need, and redirects the money to better uses.

In other words, it reduces waste, which is part of the conservative mantra, isn’t it?

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.