IF THE GOP WANTS TO TALK ABOUT PROPAGANDA, WE CAN TALK ABOUT PROPAGANDA…. Of all the things for congressional Republicans to pick a fight over, this one seems especially misguided.

As the secretary of health and human services explains it, the government has an obligation to spread the word about the new health-care law. To that end, the department spent millions of dollars printing a glossy brochure and mailing it this week to 40 million Medicare beneficiaries detailing what Secretary Kathleen Sebelius called “the facts.”

Among the facts:

There are “Improvements in Medicare You Will See Right Away.” There are “Improvements in Medicare You Will See Soon.” There are “Improvements Beyond Medicare That You and Your Family Can Count On.” And that’s not all: These improvements “will provide you and your family greater savings and increased quality health care.”

This hardly seems unreasonable. Given the significant changes to the health care system in the new Affordable Care Act, it stands to reason that the Department of Health and Human Services would produce materials informing the public about the new policy.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and some of his cohorts are complaining that the brochures constitute illegal government propaganda.

If McConnell and the GOP really want to talk about government propaganda, we can do that.

In 2001, the Bush administration sent letters to taxpayers through the Treasury Department to tout tax rebate checks and the “long-term tax relief” the administration was offering. McConnell & Co. thought this was fine. In 2004, Bush/Cheney sent out letters through HHS to tout Medicare Part D, and GAO later found that the taxpayer-financed letters included notable omissions and other weaknesses.” McConnell & Co. had no problem with this, either.

The Bush administration also had a nasty habit of using our money to secretly pay political pundits to agree with its agenda; creating fake-news segments to be distributed to local television statements, to be aired without public disclosure; and hiring retired military officers to appear in the media to say they agree with the Bush administration’s policies.

And just this week, House Republicans launched their “America Speaking Out” project, an election-year gimmick funded entirely by taxpayers.

In all of these cases, Mitch McConnell and his cohorts thought these efforts were entirely legitimate and an appropriate use of Americans’ tax dollars.

But an HHS brochure about Medicare changes qualifies as illegal government propaganda? Please.

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.