SOME PEOPLE NEVER LEARN…. Thanks to the way Republican lawmakers shaped the Bush/Cheney tax cuts, some cuts are due to expire at the end of the year. GOP lawmakers, not surprisingly, want Democrats to extend the cuts.

Top Republicans called on Democrats in Congress and the White House to extend all the tax cuts that are set to expire at the end of this year.

Sen. Judd Gregg (N.H.), the top Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, joined House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) in pushing for the extension of a series of taxes set to expire at the end of this year, including a series of cuts for households making more than $250,000 per year.

“If you want to do something to stimulate the economy, you could make clear that tax rates aren’t going to go up at the end of the year,” Gregg said during an appearance on CNBC. “If this administration really wants to stimulate, say they’re going to continue those tax rates — all those tax rates.”

How does Gregg propose the government pay for those tax cuts? He doesn’t — the cost would just be added to the deficit, the same way they were added to the deficit when Republicans approved these tax breaks in the first place. Indeed, as far as Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) is concerned, lawmakers should “never” even try to pay for tax cuts.

Let’s be real clear about this. When Democrats propose extending unemployment benefits in the midst of an unemployment crisis, Republicans insist that’s out of the question and refuse to allow the Senate to even vote on the idea — the deficit matters more. When Democrats propose aid to states to prevent hundreds of thousands of additional layoffs, Republicans insist that’s out of the question and refuse to allow the Senate to even vote on the idea — the deficit matters more.

But when tax cuts — the single biggest cause of the current massive deficit — are on the line, Republicans effectively say, “Screw the deficit. We believe deficit reduction is more important than economic growth, except when we believe the opposite.”

It would be about this time that the Tea Party crowd, if it had any integrity or intellectual consistency, would pipe up and reject the GOP tax-cut rhetoric, reiterating its commitment to deficit reduction. Anyone prepared to place a wager on this one?

Also note, Gregg insists the tax cuts would “stimulate the economy.” It’s hard to imagine why any conscious person could believe this — the tax cuts didn’t stimulate the economy when they were approved. The tax cuts passed in early 2008 didn’t stimulate the economy and prevent a recession, either. The tax cuts in the stimulus package were the least effective measure in the entire recovery effort.

What’s that line about making the same mistake over and over again, expecting a different result?

Postscript: Before publishing this, I see that Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.), who also claims to take deficit reduction seriously, has endorsed the Republican line on expiring tax cuts for the rich. How would Bayh pay for them? He wouldn’t.

Don’t let the door hit you on the way out, Evan.

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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.