With members of Congress already back in their states and local districts for the summer recess, the major parties have already advised lawmakers on the kind of message they should push with voters. For Dems, especially in the House, it’s “Accountability August,” hammering Republicans on Medicare and the debt-ceiling hostage strategy.

As of late last week, GOP leaders had a different idea in mind.

House Republicans, feeling they have scored significant fiscal victories, are moving on to an even bigger challenge: persuading voters, state legislatures and Democrats to alter the Constitution with a balanced budget amendment.

In a meeting with his conference on Monday, Speaker John A. Boehner told members that the best thing they could do during the August recess was to sell their constituents on the idea that the amendment — which essentially stipulates that government cannot spend more than it takes in — is necessary and good.

Really? This is how House Republicans are supposed to spend their August? Never mind job creation and economic growth; focus on a constitutional gimmick that almost certainly can’t pass either chamber?

What a remarkable waste. Even if we put aside the fact that there are real problems that require immediate attention, and even if we ignore the proposal’s legislative prospects, the Balanced Budget Amendment is one of the worst ideas in the history of bad ideas. That congressional Republicans managed to create a BBA this year that was even worse than the previous version is a testament to their creativity. What sensible policymakers should be doing is dismissing this “pathetic joke” of a proposal as quickly as possible.

That this is at the top of the priority list for congressional Republicans is a reminder of just how far gone they really are.

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.