THE WRONG PRIORITY AT THE WRONG TIME…. The White House issued its budget proposal this morning, and as expected, Republicans don’t like it. But as various GOP offices release statements responding to the budget plan, there’s a common theme of the complaints.

Hatch: “Regrettably, this budget keeps our nation on a reckless fiscal path”

Rubio: “The President’s budget falls far short of tackling our national debt in a serious way”

Alexander: “I still don’t see a sense of urgency from the president about the massive federal debt”

Right, and I don’t see any sense of urgency from congressional Republicans about the massive unemployment rate, so I guess we’re even?

Honestly, I liked the Republican message more when they were asking, “Where are the jobs?” It at least paid lip-service — though nothing else — to a pressing national need. Now they’re not even bothering to maintain the pretense of interest.

Ask the American mainstream what they consider to be the top national priority, and invariably, polls show “jobs and the economy” as the overwhelming choice. Ask congressional Republicans the same question, and they care about the deficit and the debt, just so long as no one tries to raise taxes to address them. (This from a party that inherited a massive surplus in 2001, turned it into a massive deficit, and added $5 trillion to the debt in just eight years.)

I realize this is well-tread ground, but the reactions to the administration’s budget are striking in that Republicans are simply choosing to pretend unemployment isn’t a problem at all. It’s as if someone hypnotized the entire party and convinced them we reached full employment and can now turn our attention elsewhere.

Five weeks into the new 112th Congress and its House GOP majority, we’ve gone from Republicans ignoring job creation to crafting a plan to put more Americans out of work on purpose to saying job creation just isn’t as important as the deficit anyway.

Voters who backed Republicans in the midterms because of unemployment should probably be feeling some buyer’s remorse right about now.

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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.