IF ‘UNCERTAINTY’ IS A GENUINE CONCERN…. The Wall Street Journal reported the other day that major U.S. businesses, thanks to rising profits in 2010, have “cleaned up their balance sheets and, flush with cash, appear open to using it in 2011 on factories, stores and even hiring.” That’s clearly good news.

There are, however, plenty of lingering concerns. Among them: uncertainty about health care costs, thanks to the tactics of congressional Republicans. (via Kevin Drum)

The Republican gains in Congress in November’s election added new questions to the outlook for health-insurance costs borne by companies. Since then, some party leaders have said they aim to reverse or at least starve the Obama health-care law; meantime, lawsuits challenge some aspects of it. “You don’t know where it’s going to go,” said Robert J. Olson, CEO of Winnebago Industries Inc., a maker of motor homes.

For two years, the single most popular talking point from congressional Republicans about the state of the economy was that “uncertainty” was holding back growth. As policy arguments go, it was always a transparent sham, but it was the only way for the GOP to try to blame the Obama administration and Democrats for a recession that began in 2007.

But the great irony of the conservative argument, such as it was, is that it’s Republicans themselves who intend to add to the broader uncertainty, not resolve it.

Put it this way: if Republicans believe their own rhetoric from the last two years, and consider private-sector certainty absolutely essential to economic growth, they can give the country a boost by announcing they’ll stop trying to gut the nation’s health care system, stop playing chicken with the debt limit, stop promising to re-write the rules overseeing the financial industry, and stop threatening to shut down the federal government.

That would generate all kinds of private-sector certainty, right?

Kevin added, “[I]t really is possible that both the healthcare sector and the business community in general, after they take a look at what kind of chaos might ensue from ad hoc partial defunding, will put some real pressure on Republicans to stand down on this. That would be an interesting turn of events, no?”

We should be so lucky.

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.