President Obama spoke in Asheville this morning, as part of the kick off of his bus tour through North Carolina and Virginia, and delivered his jobs speech to a fairly receptive audience. This time, however, he added a new section to his speech, taking advantage of recent developments in the Senate.

After noting that independent economists have projected the American Jobs Act would create nearly 2 million jobs, the president noted, “[I]t turns out one poll found that 63 percent of Americans support the ideas in this jobs bill. So 63 percent of Americans support the jobs bill that I put forward; 100 percent of Republicans in the Senate voted against it. That doesn’t make any sense, does it?”

Obama turned his attention to the new GOP alternative.

“Now, it turns out that the Republicans have a plan, too. I want to be fair. They call — they put forward this plan last week. They called it the ‘Real American Jobs Act.’ The ‘real one’ — that’s what they called it — just in case you were wondering.

“So let’s take a look at what the Republican American jobs act looks like. It turns out the Republican plan boils down to a few basic ideas: They want to gut regulations; they want to let Wall Street do whatever it wants. They want to drill more. And they want to repeal health care reform. That’s their jobs plan.”

Obama proceeded to play a little compare and contrast. Republicans want to help industries pollute; Dems want to put teachers back to work. Republicans want to gut the health care system; Dems think it won’t help the economy to take Americans’ coverage away. And so on.

This is precisely why Democrats have been pleading with GOP lawmakers to present a jobs plan — not just because Dems wanted a target, but because they knew the Republican approach would be a joke, especially when compared to the popular, economist-backed Democratic plan.

Republicans assumed they’d at least get a talking point out of this — those big meanies at the White House keep saying there’s no GOP jobs plan, so Republicans will prove them wrong. But this assumption was backwards — Republicans have given Obama a talking point, allowing him to mock the pathetic GOP agenda and use it prove why Republicans lack any and all credibility on the subject.

The president, referencing analysis published by Greg Sargent last week, added, “[R]emember those independent economists who said our plan would create jobs, maybe as many as almost 2 million jobs, grow the economy by as much as 2 percent? So one of the same economists that took a look at our plan took a look at the Republican plan, and they said, ‘Well, this won’t do much to help the economy in the short term — it could actually cost us jobs.’ We could actually lose jobs with their plan. So I’ll let you decide which plan is the real American Jobs Act.”

Here’s hoping political reporters were paying attention to this. As Greg reported today, “Multiple news orgs reported extensively on the Senate GOP’s jobs plan without soliciting the views of private economists on whether it will do what Republicans say it will do — create growth and jobs. So, a question: Shouldn’t the view of economists on this rather important question — whether Republicans are making a legitimate contribution to the debate about what to do about the short term economic crisis — be part of the discussion here?”

That need not be a rhetorical question. This isn’t a matter of opinion; we’re talking about demonstrable facts, as bolstered by independent economic analysis: the White House jobs plan would make an immediate, positive difference, and the Republican jobs plan wouldn’t help at all.

From a solely political perspective, is there any angle to the debate over jobs that’s more important than this?

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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.