QUOTE OF THE DAY…. Last night, Digby was watching CNN’s pre-speech coverage of the State of the Union, and noted that Piers Morgan explained that Britain “went with GOP-style austerity and now have .5% lower GDP.” His CNN colleagues, Digby added, “looked confused.”

That’s not unexpected. Much of the media has bought into the nonsense, accepting the Republican line that taking money out of the economy, and undermining consumers’ buying power, will somehow help promote growth.

Here’s how Morgan put it, after Wolf Blitzer noted “they’ve had some radical cuts in Britain and elsewhere and Europe as well. And folks aren’t happy about it, but they have no choice.” Morgan said:

“And here’s a fascinating parallel. Britain has been through this exact kind of conundrum a few months ago. And David Cameron’s government decided that they would go the Republican route. They would slash the deficit by cutting public spending. And today, this morning, out came the figures. The economy has shrunk by 0.5 percent.

“Now, there are lots of excuses. They’re even blaming the weather. The reality is if you do this you’re taking a huge gamble with the strength of your economy. And you now have a clear divide between the Republicans and the Democrats. President Obama is saying freeze, invest, grow. Republicans are saying slash, don’t invest, grow. One will win.”

No wonder the rest of the CNN panel looked confused — Morgan was offering an accurate assessment.

Prime Minister David Cameron’s coalition government received a sharp political jolt on Tuesday with the release of official figures showing that Britain’s economy contracted slightly in the last three months of 2010, prompting some economists to warn that the country was at increased risk of a “double dip” recession after four consecutive quarters of modest growth.

While the economic figures are subject to revision, the 0.5 percent shrinkage fell well short of the 0.5 percent growth many economists had predicted. And the wider message seemed clear: The slowdown placed the Cameron government’s $128 billion, four-year program of spending cuts and tax increases — policies on which it has staked its survival — at sharply heightened political risk.

The net effect of the new figures was to blunt the government’s momentum and to recast — at least until economic growth resumes — the role Britain has played in the global debate about the best way back to prosperity.

Remember, just this week, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R) of Alabama said it’s imperative that President Obama follow the lead set by our friends across the pond: “We need a [U.S.] budget with a bold vision — like [the one] unveiled in Britain.”

You mean the one that helped bring the British economy to a screeching halt, senator?

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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.