What MoveOn.org and Third Way can agree on

On the ideological spectrum, we can safely say both MoveOn.org and Third Way are to the left of the contemporary Republican Party. We can also safely say MoveOn.org and Third Way disagree on many, if not most, things — the former is an unapologetic, progressive activist group; the latter is a centrist organization in the tradition of the DLC.

With this in mind, it’s reassuring that both groups can agree on at least one thing: statutory spending caps are a spectacularly bad idea.

Today, for example, MoveOn sent around this press notice:

As Republicans continue to push for proposals that would force giant cuts to Medicare, prominent economists from across the country, including Dean Baker and former Labor Secretary Robert Reich, are calling on Congress to oppose spending caps that would endanger the social safety net. Seventy-five economists have signed a letter urging members of Congress to oppose irresponsible caps on federal spending, such as those in the McCaskill/Corker proposal and the Shelby/Mark Udall proposal.

You can read the letter here.

In addition, MoveOn is asking their members to call Senate Democrats today and urge them to oppose spending caps, like those in McCaskill/Corker that contain a Medicare Kill Switch.

Lastly, MoveOn members in Missouri are delivering letters to Senator McCaskill’s local offices today urging her to withdraw her bill that would force enormous cuts to Medicare.

And around the same time, Third Way issued a fairly detailed report slamming these spending caps in a more measured tone, but from a policy perspective, just as aggressively.

I guess we can all get along.

This still isn’t a high-profile issue yet, unfortunately, but the proposed caps clearly deserve the criticism. As I’ve been arguing the past few weeks, would impose insane, statutory spending caps on Congress, with the goal of automatically slashing public investments in practically everything. The measure is generating growing support from Republicans and “centrist” Democrats, but it’s still one of the worst ideas in recent memory.

Also note, just last week, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities’ Paul Van de Water explained to the Senate Finance Committee yesterday, “Imposing an arbitrary limit on federal spending would risk tipping faltering economies into recession, make recessions deeper, and make recovery from a recession more difficult.”

Heather McGhee also did a nice job summarizing the case against the CAP Act, calling it what it is: “a depression maker.”

I realize this seems like a dry topic, and the idea of arbitrary spending caps might even poll well. But I’m going to keep banging this drum. At this point, these caps probably have enough support to actually pass both chambers, and if enforced, they’d obliterate the safety net and destroy any chance of progressive policymaking for a generation. And yet, there’s some talk about including the idea in the Gang of Six plan and/or making it a precondition for raising the debt ceiling.

The fact that even MoveOn and Third Way are on the same page helps drive home the larger point: these caps are a disaster in the making.