A U-TURN ISN’T REALLY A CHANGE IN DIRECTION…. In early July, Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) delivered the weekly Republican address in the midst of some discouraging economic news. It was delivered just one day after the worst monthly jobs report since October, and amid disappointing data on construction spending and manufacturing activity. Chambliss highlighted the Republican Party’s top priority: deficit reduction. The far-right senator literally didn’t mention unemployment or economic growth at all.

Yesterday’s GOP weekly address came under similar circumstances, coming just two days after initial claims for unemployment insurance climbed to 500,000 — the highest since November — and amid new concerns of an economic slowdown. And what economic message do Republicans want to emphasize?

…Representative Charles Djou, Republican of Hawaii, took Democrats to task for ignoring the minority’s pleas and proposals to reduce the federal deficit. Mr. Djou called on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to consider the Republicans’ plan to use unspent stimulus money to close the spending gap and to extend the Bush-era tax cuts.

“If we keep spending too much, borrowing too much, and taxing too much – if we keep doing the same things, we’re going to get the same dismal results. It’s time to change direction,” he said.

Right, change direction back to the exact same failed policies that got us into this mess in the first place.

The entire GOP address was devoted, not to job creation — voters’ top priority — but to deficit reduction. “No price tag has been too high for Washington, and now we’re all paying the price. Altogether, we now owe more than $43,000 for each man, woman and child in the United States. That is a frightening number.”

No, an unemployment rate pushing 10% is a frightening number.

I suppose I should know better, but Republicans’ misguided priorities are simply mind-numbing. Worrying about deficit reduction right now — indeed, prioritizing it above all else — is nothing short of crazy. Republicans want to scrap economic recovery efforts, which is insane, and want to extend Bush-era tax policies, which failed miserably and helped create the massive deficit Djou claims to be worried about.

Indeed, the context would be amusing if it weren’t so transparently pathetic — in the official GOP weekly address, the entire message was about deficit reduction, followed by an appeal for hundreds of billions of dollars in tax cuts that Republicans have no intention of paying for.

Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) added on Fox News, “The bills are being passed on to our kids tomorrow, and it’s a calamity.”

No, a jobs crisis and an economic slowdown right now would be a calamity. And if the deficit really was such a disaster, why is Gregg demanding Congress add $678 billion to said deficit with tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires?

How on earth can anyone take these guys seriously?

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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.