PAWLENTY DOESN’T KNOW WHAT A ‘CREDIBLE ECONOMIST’ IS…. Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s (R) hopes of undermining confidence in the economic recovery package are predictable — he is, after all, planning to run against President Obama in 2012. It’s his citation on Fox News today that irked me.

“I think most credible economists say it’s not working,” Pawlenty said.

Funny, I can’t think of a credible economist who doubts it’s working.

[W]ith roughly a quarter of the stimulus money out the door after nine months, the accumulation of hard data and real-life experience has allowed more dispassionate analysts to reach a consensus that the stimulus package, messy as it is, is working. […]

In interviews, a broad range of economists said the White House and Congress were right to structure the package as a mix of tax cuts and spending, rather than just tax cuts as Republicans prefer or just spending as many Democrats do.

Among “credible economists,” we seem awfully close to complete unanimity that the Democrats’ recovery effort rescued the economy from collapse, created jobs, and generated economic growth that wouldn’t have existed otherwise. Among the experts, this isn’t even worth debating anymore — it’s simply an obvious truth that the stimulus was effective. (It would have been more effective had it been more ambitious, but “moderate” Republicans insisted that the package be smaller.)

Even the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank that which enjoyed very close ties to the Bush White House, said that without the stimulus, the economy would not have grown at all in 2009. We’ve seen related reports over, and over, and over again. Any serious person who’s looked at reality has to conclude that Pawlenty’s vision for addressing the economic crisis would have made things worse, not better.

Which is why the politics of the economic debate can be so exasperating. To reiterate a point from a month ago, the Republicans’ track record of uninterrupted failure is rather astounding.

The GOP said the stimulus package would fail to create jobs. We now know the Republicans were wrong.

The GOP said the recovery efforts would fail to generate economic growth. We now know the Republicans were wrong.

The GOP said the stimulus “failed.” We now know the Republicans were wrong.

The GOP said the government should cancel unspent recovery funds. We now know the Republicans were wrong.

The GOP said tax cuts are more effective at stimulating the economy than government spending. We now know the Republicans were wrong.

Tim Pawlenty simply has no idea what he’s talking about. His understanding isn’t just backwards, it’s dangerously confused.

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.