House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) appeared on “Fox News Sunday” yesterday and argued that President Obama’s policies “have actually made our economy worse.” Then he said it again. And again. All told, the House Republican repeated the claim five times in one interview (and in each instance, host Chris Wallace offered no pushback whatsoever).

For those who care about reality, Boehner’s claim isn’t true. Since the president took office, every aspect of the American economy — job creation, economic growth, manufacturing, the stock market, etc. — has improved considerably. Repeating a lie five times doesn’t make it true.

But what I find especially important about this is the extent to which Mitt Romney, the likely Republican presidential nominee, disagrees with Boehner.

Consider this remarkable exchange between Romney and conservative radio-host Laura Ingraham late last week: (thanks to F.B. for the tip)

INGRAHAM: You’ve also noted that there are signs of improvement on the horizon in the economy. How do you answer the president’s argument that the economy is getting better in a general election campaign if you yourself are saying it’s getting better?

ROMNEY: Well, of course it’s getting better. The economy always gets better after a recession, there is always a recovery. […]

INGRAHAM: Isn’t it a hard argument to make if you’re saying, like, OK, he inherited this recession, he took a bunch of steps to try to turn the economy around, and now, we’re seeing more jobs, but vote against him anyway? Isn’t that a hard argument to make? Is that a stark enough contrast?

ROMNEY: Have you got a better one, Laura? It just happens to be the truth.

I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say this may be the most important statement Romney has made since launching his 2012 presidential campaign. Think about it: the likely GOP nominee argued, on the air and on the record, that the economy is getting better under President Obama, and it “happens to be the truth” that Obama took steps to turn the economy around, resulting in more jobs for American workers.

If Laura Ingraham had asked a Democratic ally of the president the same question, she likely would have heard a similar answer.

What’s more, as I noted over a week ago, Romney keeps saying this. He told voters in South Carolina and New Hampshire that under Obama, the economy is “getting better.”

Romney’s message, of course, comes with a catch: he believes the economy is improving, but he doesn’t want the president to get credit for it. But as Ingraham noticed, that’s an argument that will fail miserably.

A month into 2012, the Republican is effectively arguing, “Sure, Obama inherited a deep recession. And sure, he took a bunch of steps to turn the economy around. And sure, we’re now seeing more jobs being created and more economic growth. But vote against him anyway.”

This isn’t just a tough sell; it’s an impossible one.

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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.