It’s become something of a running joke for much of 2011: the more the monthly job numbers improved, the more Republicans were eager to take credit. Just look, GOP leaders said, at all the jobs created since January!

I’m going to go out on a limb and guess they won’t take credit for the new monthly jobs report. It’s a nice little scam Republicans have put together: when more jobs are being created, it’s proof they’re right; when fewer jobs are being created, it’s proof Obama’s wrong. Heads they win; tails Dems lose.

For the record, Republicans have nothing to whine about — the economy is advancing exactly as they want it to. The private sector is being left to its own devices; the public sector is shedding jobs quickly; and the only permitted topic of conversation is about debt-reduction. This is the script the GOP wrote; the party has nothing to complain about when it’s followed to the letter.

The rest of us, however, have plenty of complain about. As Republicans dominate the agenda, and Congress tackles abortion bills and austerity measures, the economy is faltering badly.

Indeed, we’re already seeing the results of austerity — state and local governments are being forces to cut spending, and as a result, tens of thousands of public-sector workers are being forced from their jobs. This, in a nutshell, is the agenda Republicans are desperate to bring to the federal level.

In other words, the GOP has a plan to make matters much worse.

As awful as this morning’s jobs report was, it should, in theory, have one important upside: policymakers who were content to ignore job creation and focus on the deficit just got a startling reminder that those priorities are backwards. The stimulus made the jobs landscape better, and now that the Recovery Act has largely run its course, the job market is deteriorating.

The dominant theory on Capitol Hill is that everything will get magically better just as soon as we take money out of the economy, scrap public investments, focus on inflation that doesn’t exist, and prioritize the debt over the economy.

It didn’t work for Hoover, but congressional Republicans are slow learners.

Honestly, it’s like having a debate about the economy in a Lewis Carroll novel.

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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.