Meanwhile I get a headache trying to understand the Medicaid component of the decision. Here’s what I think is being described:
Congress can condition ‘new’ funding on coercive command X. But they can’t take away ‘old’ funding for not obeying X.
This (if I have it right) sounds like another one of those economically-retarded concepts made up by lawyers. What in the heck is ‘new’ and ‘old’ funding? News flash: money is fungible. There’s no special way to categorize money as ‘old’ versus ‘new’. Nor would it matter if there were.
Let’s say, oh, Texas had been receiving Y dollars per year. This happens presumably via Congress passing a law in which, somewhere, it says (effectively) ‘and pay Texas Y dollars a year’. Now Congress wants to command Texas to do X. They write a law saying: if Texas doesn’t do X, their funding goes from Y to 0.
This law has just been ruled unconstitutional. Fine.
But couldn’t Congress just, like, ‘independently’ change Texas’s funding from Y to 0 (upon seeing their failure to obey, etc.)? Or, change ALL states’ funding to 0 (but then create ‘new funding’ that is conditioned on doing X)?
Is the Supreme Court going to come back and say Hey you can’t do that, you were paying them Y before. Congress can just say So? We feel like paying them 0 now. Supreme Court: but, uh, we suspect you’re punishing them for not obeying that command X over there. We think you’ve taken away their ‘old’ funding Y and you weren’t a ‘sposed to do that. Congress: Naw. We just independently felt like changing their funding to 0 for totally unrelated reasons. Indeed you are wrong to say their ‘old’ funding is Y. Y was their old old funding. We have reviewed this year and revised their ‘old’ funding to be 0. But don’t worry, we won’t condition their ‘old’ baseline 0 funding on any commands or anything. You said we couldn’t. We’re just giving those states who obey our commands some ‘new’ funding, which just coincidentally happens to be Y, the same funding that the old funding used to be. And that’s totally cool, you said so.
What’s the Supreme Court’s position going to be then? Congress must fund states at exactly constant levels for all time? Congress needs SC permission to revisit and adjust state funding on a case by case basis? SC is going to read Congress’s mind and determine whether they adjusted funding downward as punishment for not doing X rather than just cuz they thought that was an appropriate adjustment for legitimate reasons? (Why, trying to make that distinction is almost as stupid-ass as trying to determine if a bank trader did a trade because he thought it would make money on market moves vs because he thought he could capture a bid-offer spread…)
Maybe I’m missing something, but in the future, should we expect a ritual of yearly petitions by states asking the SC to pore over Congress’s funding of them and determine which portion is ‘old’ vs ‘new’ and rule that this or that downward funding-adjustment is an improper ‘coercive taking away of old funding’ rather than a ‘proper exercise of adjusting new funding’? This is, of course, economically moronic but it’s what the SC has seemingly invited and sentenced themselves to.
Or am I wrong? Can anyone explain this concept of prior and new funding in a way that makes sense? Economic sense rather than legalese sense?
Another aspect of this ruling that matches my prediction: convoluted and fucked-up. I can’t even take solace in agreeing with the part of it that my side ‘won’.