CANTOR’S YOUCUT TARGETS TANF EMERGENCY FUND…. Last week, House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) launched the latest in a series of gimmicks. The new one is called “YouCut,” and the idea is pretty straightforward — Republicans pick government programs they don’t like, and then encourage the public to vote on which one they want to see eliminated. Then, GOP lawmakers try to cut the funding.

The idea was widely mocked by people like, well, me. Regardless, a week later, the initial round of voting is complete, and Republicans know what they want to slash first.

Minority Whip Eric Cantor (Va.) announced Tuesday that a $2.5 billion welfare program will be the first project marked for elimination through the House Republican YouCut initiative.

The welfare emergency fund won the first YouCut poll with 29.07 percent of the online vote, edging out four other government programs that Republicans identified as “wasteful.”

At issue is the welfare emergency fund, included in last year’s Recovery Act. It carried a $5 billion price tag, half of which has already been spent. Here’s the way Cantor’s office characterized the emergency fund to YouCut voters:

The program was recently created to incentivize states to increase their welfare caseloads without requiring able-bodied adults to work, get job training, or otherwise prepare to move off of taxpayer assistance. Reforming the welfare program was one of the great achievements of the mid 1990s, saving taxpayers billions of dollars and ending the cycle of dependency on welfare. This new program, created in 2009 is a backdoor way to undo those reforms.

The problem, not surprisingly, is that Cantor doesn’t seem to understand the program he now wants to cut. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities explained today that this so-called “wasteful” program will actually enable states to place 186,000 unemployed individuals in subsidized jobs by the end of the summer. The notion that it “incentivizes states to increase their welfare caseloads” is simply wrong.

But like most Republican gimmicks, this has nothing to do with what’s real, and everything to do with what Cantor and his cohorts can get people to believe.

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.