THE HOUSE GOP’S WILDLY UNPOPULAR SPENDING CUTS…. On Monday, Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) said brutal spending cuts are exactly what voters demand. In fact, the frequently confused Republican felt comfortable designating himself as the voice of the electorate when it comes to spending: “[T]he American people are losing patience, and I’m losing patience.”

Pence and his GOP colleagues either aren’t paying attention to public attitudes, or they’re hoping the rest of us aren’t paying attention to public attitudes.

Americans are sending a message to congressional Republicans: Don’t shut down the federal government or slash spending on popular programs.

Almost 8 in 10 people say Republicans and Democrats should reach a compromise on a plan to reduce the federal budget deficit to keep the government running, a Bloomberg National Poll shows. At the same time, lopsided margins oppose cuts to Medicare, education, environmental protection, medical research and community-renewal programs.

While Americans say it’s important to improve the government’s fiscal situation, among the few deficit-reducing moves they back are cutting foreign aid, pulling U.S. troops out of Afghanistan and Iraq, and repealing the Bush-era tax cuts for households earning more than $250,000 a year.

At a certain level, it’s genuinely bizarre that we’re having a budget debate and one of the major parties wants to take money out of the economy and make unemployment worse, on purpose, threatening a fragile and tenuous economic recovery. Republicans seriously believe we’ll be better off with deep cuts in areas such as education, medical research, infrastructure, job training, and national security, all of which is projected to cost the economy hundreds of thousands of jobs, and no one seems willing to simply laugh them out of the room.

But another level, it’s nearly as odd that this same political party claims to have public support for its agenda, when all available evidence suggests they’re completely wrong.

The Bloomberg poll finds most Americans more concerned with job creation than deficit reduction — imagine that — but when it comes to ideas to actually reduce the budget shortfall, the only popular ideas are cutting foreign aid, withdrawing from Iraq and Afghanistan, and raising taxes on households earning more than $250,000 a year.

What’s unpopular? The entire GOP agenda: 66% of Americans don’t want cuts to community renewal programs, 72% don’t want cuts to medical and scientific research, 77% don’t want cuts to education programs, and 50% don’t want cuts to public television and public radio.

And in case anyone’s forgotten, Republicans cut community renewal programs, medical and scientific research, education, and public broadcasts.

Congressional Republicans are absolutely convinced the country stands behind their proposed cuts. Every House GOP lawmaker voted for these cuts last month, and every Senate Republican will vote for them today.

But the country just isn’t buying it.

This should, in theory, give Democrats considerable leverage in the budget negotiations. It won’t, but it should.

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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.