LIKE A STEELE TRAP…. As precarious as the economic recovery is, there is ample evidence of incremental progress. Thanks to government intervention, job losses are better, economic growth is stronger, confidence is higher, and the entire system that was on the brink of collapse is more stable.

With that in mind, when it comes to commentary on the economy, leaders of the Republican Party have three broad options: 1) apologize for their near-catastrophic failures and for opposing the same measures that helped clean up their mess; 2) thank the policymakers responsible for preventing a depression; or 3) say nothing and change the subject.

And yet, there’s Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele with another Politico op-ed — his fifth piece for the publication since May — pretending to know what he’s talking about.

Over 2.8 million jobs have been lost since President Obama’s began to experiment with his deficit funded stimulus package. American families are still facing double digit unemployment levels. […]

Despite America’s obvious economic crisis and the failure of their huge spending to correct it, President Obama and Congressional Democrats still tell us they can inflate our economy with more spending and overcome our problems with more debt.

Well, actually, in our reality, President Obama and congressional Democrats did bolster our economy with more spending and finance the rescue with debt. That was the point. Millions of jobs have been lost because of the recession the president inherited — from Steele’s buddies in the last administration — and which the stimulus is helping address. Blaming Obama for job losses is like blaming the fire department for the arsonist’s blaze.

What’s more, while it’s obviously not easy to work our way out of the deep recession Republicans left for Democrats to address, the president’s strategy has been very effective.

Steele’s piece then turns its attention to killing health care reform, which he says would “increase our health care premiums” (the opposite is true), “raise taxes on small businesses and the middle class” (the opposite is true), and would cost too much (in reality, reform lowers the deficit and is arguably the most ambitious cost-cutting bill ever considered by Congress).

The RNC chairman adds, “If our economy is still struggling next year, shouldn’t we invest that trillion bucks into creating jobs?”

This is simply baffling. In one paragraph, Steele insists government investment hasn’t and can’t create jobs. In another paragraph, in the same piece, Steele thinks we can improve the economy by spending $1 trillion on job creation?

Steele goes on to argue that health care reform might be bad for the economy. The evidence to the contrary is overwhelming, but to bolster his case, the RNC head points to … nothing in particular. He just asserts that reform “could be a burden on our economy and put a strain on American job makers.”

Why Politico publishes this nonsense, as opposed to simply letting Steele post it to the RNC blog, is unclear. Why Politico has published five op-eds from Steele since the summer is even harder to justify.

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.