The new top House priority: balanced budget amendment

It’s as if they’re handing out crazy pills in the House Republican cloakroom.

Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) announced Friday the House would stay in session to work on the debt talks and cancel a recess set to begin on July 18.

Cantor told members to expect a vote the week of July 18 on the balanced budget amendment, which had been planned for the week following the recess. […]

During Thursday’s closed-door meeting, the GOP conference spent a majority of its time discussing the upcoming balanced budget amendment.

Yes, of course they did. Americans politics has already slipped down the rabbit hole; why wouldn’t they put a ridiculous constitutional amendment at the top of their to-do list? House Republicans could work on a jobs bill — the grand total of jobs bills considered by the GOP this year: zero — but they see their time better spent working on changing the constitution with a measure that can’t pass the Senate anyway.

Maybe Republicans got together and agreed to play a practical joke on the nation. In the midst of a jobs crisis, GOP leaders may have thought to themselves, “Let’s see just how ridiculous we can be and still get away with it.” There’s a small risk that voters would rebel against this madness, but Republicans assume the public won’t know the difference, so the likelihood of electoral punishment is probably pretty small.

I suspect those assumptions are correct. Even if voters do get upset, some secretly-funded PAC will intervene next fall, run a bunch of ads, and channel that anger in an absurd new direction.

In case anyone’s forgotten, the balanced budget amendment is easily the worst proposed amendment since Prohibition, and has accurately been described as a “pathetic joke.” What’s more, this new version, Dylan Matthews explained yesterday, is actually worse than the old one.

And in case the House GOP prioritizing this weren’t quite stupid enough for you, Senate Republicans are pushing the same insane measure in the upper chamber, led in part by Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), an alleged moderate who’s so afraid her party’s right-wing base will end her career in a primary next year, that she’s even willing to do this.

If America loses the future, I can only hope history acknowledges it was the Republican Party that prevented our victory.