HOUSE GOP SETS REPEAL VOTE…. At a minimum, House Republicans are making their top priority clear. A week from tomorrow, the new House majority will get right to work, not on job creation or economic growth, but on a largely-symbolic gesture that would, if implemented, gut the nation’s health care system.

Republicans’ top priority, in other words, is pointless, shameless pandering to their extremist base.

House Republicans have set Jan. 12 as their day to vote on a repeal of President Obama’s health-care law, after a midterm election in which they campaigned against the landmark legislation as a government takeover of the health industry.

The announcement Monday sets up the attempted repeal of the law as the first significant action by House Republicans in the 112th Congress. With 242 members on their side, Republicans expect to pass the legislation easily, but they privately acknowledge that the measure faces a high hurdle in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

Apparently intent on treating Americans as idiots, the House GOP has named their bill the “Repeal of the Job Killing Health Care Law Act.” (Try listening to Republicans explain why health care reform undermines job creation. It’s almost amusing to hear them stumble over their own gibberish.) It’s a fairly short measure — Republicans would simply undo everything done through the Affordable Care Act, revering back to the pre-March status quo.

The context for all this is truly farcical, even by GOP standards. Remember all the incessant whining about process during the actual debate over health care reform? This week, Republicans met behind closed doors to craft a bill, with no input from anyone outside the top party leadership. There will be no hearings to explore the merit of the legislation, or to consider the consequences.

Perhaps most interesting, the House Republicans, in their first big legislative push, have decided to put aside their own budget guidelines in order to pursue repeal. They don’t have much of a choice — the Affordable Care Act lowers the deficit by hundreds of billions of dollars. The GOP can’t pay for its repeal push, so it’s decided not to try — Republicans would just add the costs to the deficit, which they occasionally pretend to care about.

The incoming majority feels pretty good about all of this, knowing it will at least temporarily satiate the party’s base, and certain that the measure will pass the chamber. But this one vote will offer Democrats plenty of fodder for 2012 attack ads.

After all, with their first big initiative after retaking the majority, House Republicans will vote to increase the deficit, raise taxes on small businesses, force vulnerable seniors to pay thousands of additional out-of-pocket dollars for their medication, and allow insurers to discriminate against children with pre-existing conditions, among other things.

Adding insult to injury, Republicans picked this as their top priority, even though they knew it would fail, after writing their bill behind closed doors and with no hearings.

The 112th Congress isn’t exactly going to get off on the right foot.

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.