As part of the debt-reduction agreement initiated by congressional Republicans over the summer, the Pentagon was already preparing to cut $450 billion over the next decade. In addition, Republicans offered over $500 billion in automatic Pentagon cuts as part of the super-committee process.

The result is one of the year’s sillier GOP attacks.

…Republicans see an opening with the $500 billion in automatic cuts that would hit the defense budget beginning in January 2013, and several candidates seized on the issue in the last GOP debate. […]

Since the cuts don’t take effect until January 2013, Congress will have plenty of time to change them, and the GOP will have plenty of opportunities to beat up Obama over the issue.

The question that matters is why Republicans would beat up President Obama over their own idea.

Before reality slips completely down the memory hole, let’s recap how we got here. Congressional Republicans, in a move without precedent in American history, were holding the economy and the full faith and credit of the United States hostage. Democrats, fearful that the GOP wasn’t bluffing and that the nation would pay a severe price, was willing to cut a bad deal: $900 billion in debt reduction, on top of another $1.2 trillion agreement to be worked out by a so-called super-committee.

But Dems weren’t completely willing to roll over — they wanted to create an incentive for Republicans to work in good faith on the $1.2 trillion in savings. Democrats proposed the threat of automatic tax increases to push GOP officials to be responsible, but Republicans refused and offered an alternative: if the committee failed, the GOP would accept $600 billion in defense cuts and Dems would accept $600 billion in non-defense domestic cuts.

Remember, the point was to create an incentive that the parties would be desperate to avoid. Pentagon cuts were Republicans’ contribution to the process. These cuts were their idea. They struck a deal and agreed to accept these consequences.

Now, however, they’ve decided (a) they don’t like their idea anymore; (b) no longer want to hold up their end of the bargain; (c) want to increase government spending, no matter what it does to the debt; and (d) President Obama is to blame for the Republicans’ own proposal.

And yet, what you’re likely to hear, over and over again in the coming months, is that Republicans are fighting to prevent dangerous defense cuts, and are meeting resistance from Democrats.

There’s no reason for the media to play along. News outlets will do so anyway, but there’s no reason for it. Republicans started this fight demanding debt reduction, then offered massive spending cuts to a part of the government they care about. They’re now demanding less debt reduction and more government spending — and if Democrats balk, these same Republicans will spend an election year accusing them of being anti-military.

Every GOP official and/or candidate whining about this should be asked two simple questions: (1) why are you blaming Democrats for a Republican proposal; and (2) if you’re against this idea now, why didn’t you say anything in August?

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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.