GOP's lawsuit against Biden's stimulus bill shows their 'long game' to thwart his agenda

Republicans are attacking President Biden's landmark legislation just passed by Congress, the American Rescue Plan (ARP). Ohio's Attorney General filed a lawsuit against the Treasury Department last week targeting the ARP for preventing states from "receiving direct funds from the bill from reducing their net tax revenues over the next three years," writes Slate's Arnab Datta.

According to Datta, Republicans are basically asking that states be allowed to use federal funds to pay for tax cuts and their legal arguments are "tailor-made for a judiciary hostile to the federal government." Datta writes that the bill doesn't prohibit tax cuts. "Instead, it requires—as a condition for choosing to accept aid—that states do not affirmatively choose to decrease net tax revenues. Governors still have policy control over the tax-side of their balance sheet: any number of tax cuts could be passed so long as they were balanced out by increased revenue elsewhere."

Even though the GOP's arguments don't hold up to scrutiny, they may still find support in a judiciary looking to weaken the "federal government's power to enact progressive change."

Datta writes that Treasury Secretary Janey Yellen faces a precarious choice in responding to the lawsuit. "To fight the claim that the condition is unambiguous, the government would likely have to argue that the law unambiguously states that any tax policy change that creates a net revenue loss would need to be offset with a revenue increase. But such a broad provision could be seen as heavy-handed and push a conservative judiciary to find a violation of the anti-commandeering doctrine."

"It's possible that this lawsuit goes nowhere and the substantial costs of litigation for both sides deter further action," Datta writes. "But regardless of what happens, the GOP will surely launch more legal attacks on the federal spending power."

Read the full op-ed over at Slate.