Just so we’re clear, a Democratic president is fighting hard to cut taxes, and is facing heavy opposition from congressional Republicans…

President Obama plunged into the heart of Republican primary land on Tuesday to deliver a direct challenge to Congress to act quickly to extend and expand the payroll tax cut when lawmakers return next week from the Thanksgiving holidays.

Laying out his proposal in deliberately simple and stark terms, the president told an audience here that if Republicans in Congress vote no, middle-class families will have to pay an additional $1,000 in taxes next year when the temporary break ends.

“Next week, they’ll get a simple vote,” Mr. Obama said. “No, your taxes go up. Yes, you get a tax cut. Which way do you think Congress should vote?”

…while congressional Republicans fight equally hard to increase government spending.

Republicans will fight deep, automatic cuts to defense and security programs, scheduled to take effect January 2013 as a result of the Super Committee’s inaction. Indeed, they’ve been at it for weeks. Their fight centers on — what else! — the human toll and the harm spending cuts will do to the economy.

That Republicans were the ones who offered the deep, automatic cuts to defense and security programs seems to have slipped down the memory hole.

That Republicans, as a matter of basic philosophy, generally believe that spending cuts never hurt the economy also seems to have slipped down the same memory hole.

Nevertheless, taken together, GOP lawmakers are pushing as hard as they can against tax cuts and for more government spending — and few seem to find this odd.

These are strange days.

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.