THEY DO LOVE THEIR LOBBYISTS…. Last week, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said he couldn’t tell anyone what Republicans would do if they won a congressional majority. Hoping to evade any kind of substantive debate, Boehner said he preferred to wait — his taxpayer-financed “America Speaking Out” gimmick would tell GOP candidates what to think.

The next question, then, is who’ll shape the “America Speaking Out” project. It obviously isn’t the public — GOP leaders are ignoring ideas generated by the initiative that they don’t already like — but it might be the lobbyists. (via Alex Seitz-Wald)

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.) have invited senior Republican lobbyists and top officials from several large trade groups to the Capitol next week to provide their suggestions for a new GOP agenda.

The meeting is part of the House leaders’ initiative called America Speaking Out, which is intended to draw broad input to create a new policy agenda for the party to launch in the fall.

An e-mail invitation sent to more than 20 trade representatives and obtained by Roll Call summoned guests to Boehner’s second-floor office on July 16 “to discuss House Republican efforts to produce a new policy agenda with a small group of trade association leaders.”

Invitees included Dan Danner, head of the National Federation of Independent Business; Bruce Josten, top lobbyist at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce; Jay Timmons of the National Association of Manufacturers; and Joe Stanton of the National Association of Home Builders.

Imagine that. House Republicans don’t have a policy agenda, but they’re willing to put one together, just as soon as the lobbyists tell the party what to think.

This seems to fit into a larger pattern. When the Senate began work on a jobs bill, Republicans huddled with corporate lobbyists. When the House began work on Wall Street reform, Republicans huddled with industry lobbyists. When Congress worked on health care reform, Republicans huddled with insurance lobbyists. When the Senate moved forward on an energy/climate bill, Republicans huddled with energy lobbyists.

This even extends to candidate recruitment. When Republicans needed a U.S. Senate candidate in Indiana they turned to Dan Coats — a corporate bank lobbyist who lives in D.C.

If I didn’t know better, I might think Republicans’ “Tea Party populism” shtick is just some kind of cheap charade. That couldn’t be, could it?

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.