REPUBLICANS SCRAMBLE FOR CREDIT ON THE ECONOMY…. Time will tell whether 2011 is a good year for the U.S. economy. There are some optimistic projections available, and we can all hope they’re correct, but the recovery is, at best, fragile at this point.

But Republicans have begun to see some economic improvements — gains the GOP insisted were impossible in light of the Obama White House’s policies — and want to figure out a way to get credit for them.

Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), for example, argued last week that the recent good news — private-sector job growth, big corporate profits, major gains in the major Wall Street indexes — that occurred throughout 2010 were the result of Republican tax policies. As Kyl sees it, business leaders in early 2010 predicted the tax policy agreement crafted in late 2010, and started growing the economy based on their future-predicting abilities.

On Fox News today, House Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier (R-Calif.) offered a related argument.

“[Congressional Republicans] are determined to ensure that with a market-oriented approach [to health care policy] we can have the kind of chance for people to have access to insurance and we can get our economy growing.

“And we’ve gotten some positive numbers. I think it’s in large part because we won our majority and we’re pursuing pro-growth policies.”

It’s really fascinating. The economy started growing again in 2009, with the stimulus gaving the economy a boost. We saw growth continue throughout 2010 — even after those rascally Democrats passed health care reform and Wall Street reform — while Republicans said Dems were killing the economy.

And now Dreier would have us believe the limited growth we’ve seen is the direct result of Republican policies that haven’t even been voted on, and a new Republican House majority that’s been in power for two weeks.

So to review, Republicans in the Bush era brought the global economy to the brink of catastrophic collapse; Obama and congressional Dems helped turn things around; and now those same Republicans whose policies failed want credit for Democratic successes.

I know some folks will find this persuasive, and maybe even some of these GOP officials have deluded themselves into believing their own rhetoric. But it doesn’t make the argument any less ridiculous.

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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.