THEY NEVER LEARN…. In 2005, then-President George W. Bush decided to launch an ambitious proposal: he wanted to use his election mandate and Republican congressional majorities to privatize Social Security. It didn’t go especially well — Americans hated the idea, GOP lawmakers balked, and Bush’s poll numbers dropped and never recovered.

Three years later, a global economic crisis began, and Wall Street went into a tailspin. It was reasonable to think, “At least we won’t have to listen to Republicans talk up Social Security privatization anymore.”

But they still haven’t given up on the idea. Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Tex.) appeared on MSNBC’s “Hardball” yesterday and highlighted, in the context of the new budget debate, how his party would cut the deficit. Specifically, he recommended cutting Social Security benefits and privatizing the system the way Bush/Cheney proposed five years ago.

And lest anyone think Hensarling was just freelancing on this, or that his remarks were atypical of Republican lawmakers, note that Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), the ranking Republican on the House Budget Committee, unveiled a budget plan yesterday that also calls for the privatization of Social Security.

As a policy matter, privatization is as ridiculous now as it was in 2005. As a practical matter, I’m slightly amazed a major political party would have the gall to push this so soon after a stock market crash.

And as an electoral matter, the House Republican caucus seems to be doing the DCCC a pretty big favor. In the fall, Dems would love to let voters know that a Republican resurgence would mean a new crusade to privatize Social Security, and conservatives like Hensarling are making this easy.

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.