Forget Representation — How ’Bout No Taxation?

In Tuesday’s edition of The Hill, Jim Mills called the District of Columbia’s lack of federal representation despite being subject to federal taxation a travesty and outrage, bringing to mind the quote from Woody Allen’s “Bananas,” of “a travesty of a mockery of a sham of a mockery of a travesty of two mockeries of a sham.”

As Mills noted, the legislation moving forward in the House and Senate is clearly unconstitutional. Federal representation for District residents requires changing the Constitution. Ratifying a constitutional amendment on the issue is unlikely; it’s simply not in any state’s interest to willingly diminish its own power.

Proponents of D.C. statehood, with the license plates and signs all over town reading “Taxation Without Representation,” however, have things backwards. If they really want to improve life in the District, forget about the representation and focus on the taxes.

District residents know all too well the dysfunction that is D.C. government — the threat of more than a half-inch of snow paralyzes the town, something even President Obama has noticed, and our roads seem more appropriate for four-wheel off-roading than for your neighbor’s new Prius. Stoplights and fire hydrants often don’t work (though parking meters sure do). It’s a government that lost the Washington Redskins to Maryland and is on course to do the same with D.C. United.

And that doesn’t begin to address Marion Barry. He’s seemingly a city councilman for life, and could well win another term as mayor if he threw his fedora in the ring. His repeated failure to pay — or even file — his taxes is met by local judges, despite the best efforts of the U.S. attorney, with a collective shrug, and while other District residents face life or death, Marion Barry gets a new kidney via the "Mickey Mantle Expressway."

Why would anyone want to force this on the rest of the nation?


Exempting District residents from federal income taxes would create a financial boom. Property values would skyrocket while businesses would grow and/or relocate to Washington — turning the District into an Andorra, Monaco and Wilmington, Del., all in one. Neighborhoods that have been trapped in a cycle of poverty and crime, long forgotten by their government, could flourish.

One last benefit — by exempting District residents from federal income taxes, Obama’s Cabinet nominees could sail through the Senate!