Freshman Congressman: No Taxation for D.C.

Monday, Feb 7, 2011  |  Updated 3:45 PM EDT
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No Taxation or Representation?

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WASHINGTON - APRIL 16: Then-Council Chairman Vincent Gray (L), Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) (2nd-L), then-Mayor Adrian Fenty (3rd-L), and then-Councilman Kwame Brown (R) participate in a march to ask for voting representation for the nation's capital in the U.S. House of Representatives on April 16, 2007 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Yet again, a congressman is suggesting buying off the D.C. voting rights set by exempting Washington residents from paying federal income taxes. This time, though, the suggestion seems sincere.

The Hill's Ballot Box reported that freshman Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) isn't sure about giving D.C. residents a voting member of Congress, but maybe there's something to that popular license plate slogan.

"I have seen the license plates that say there should be no taxation without representation," West told the website blackvoicesnews.com.

"I have to do more research on the issue. The District of Columbia was designed to be the home base of the federal government, so I would have to see what the Constitution says.

“If you live in the District, perhaps an exclusionary zone should be set up where District residents do not pay federal taxes,” he added.

West wants to make the Republican Party more appealing to African-Americans, Ballot Box reported, because "blacks cannot expect to have power in this country when they vote 90 percent Democratic," he said.

But imagine the influx of new residents from D.C.'s suburbs in Virginia and Maryland and the soaring property values as the wealthy hide their income from the feds by putting it into D.C.'s economy -- gentrification at a rate so fast your head will spin.

Maybe the Democrats' majority in the city soon wouldn't be so overwhelming, but not because of African-Americans switching party affiliation. Or maybe, as DCist supposes, exempting more than a half million people from paying taxes would convince the rest of the country to just let Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) have her vote already.

We've been down this road before. The no taxation suggestion causes a murmur and a few chuckles and then fades away.

In January 2009, D.C. Voting Rights Act opponent Rep. Louie Gohmert  (R-Texas) announced he would introduce a bill exempting D.C. residents from paying federal income taxes -- essentially saying he'd rather D.C. not have that one more Democratic voice in Congress (along with one more Republican vote for symmetry) than pay taxes -- as well as a measure giving D.C. back to Maryland, except for federal buildings, if Maryland would accept it.

Norton dismissed Gohmert's no taxation bill stunt, which she had tried several years before but from an opposite angle.

Regardless of West's intent, voting rights activists have repeatedly said in the past that "no taxation" is not an acceptable solution. Only a voting member of Congress will suffice. And exempting all of a city's residents from paying taxes is just as ridiculous as it sounds.

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