Jeff Surrell believes that a GOP House win wouldn’t be all bad for the District, as many have claimed. Specifically, Surrell points to Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) who wants to remove the Federal Income Tax from District residents, putting them on par with Guam, Puerto Rico and other US Territories, which are neither taxed federally nor do they have voting representation in the House. I’m not so sure that’s the right path to take.
Okay, I’m willing to say that at least one member of the potential new majority of the subcommittee which oversees the District is not a total shithead, but I’m not convinced that that person is Rep. Gohmert. In 2007, Rep. Gohmert decided that DC needed no representation, and declared that he would represent DC.
I would imagine that removing the federal income tax from District residents might cause the sort of land rush that many have been seeking to avoid as the city goes through many economic changes, as houses here would be tax-free outposts for the wealthy, and could serve to drive up property taxes as the land grab chases away the poor. That’s no more fair to the District than the current situation, and I can’t in good conscience stand for that.
The problem here isn’t taxation: the problem here is self-determination.
This is a nation that was founded on the principles of representative democracy and self-governance, not on treating citizens like rabble who are unable to rule themselves. That’s why wise men threw off the chains of Britain’s kings and aristocracy, and declared that all persons are created equal, and that all persons had the right to help determine the way in which they were governed.
The District deserves voting Representation in Congress. Our population, larger than that of the State of Wyoming, lives with a clear congressional check over its city politics. In reaction to the governor of Pennsylvania ordering his troops in to harass Congress in the early days of the country, the Founders acted to make the Capitol not owned by any state, but did not in turn account for our proper representation, one of the plan’s flaws. I don’t believe in retrocession, but I do think that DC deserves a kind of hybrid representation that reflects our unique status.
Sadly, as long as opponents can say “Senator Marion Barry,” there will be an effective and clear argument to the contrary. Unfortunately, that will be the extent of statehood or independence for the District as long as he’s alive. Even after that, Republicans will continue to stand in the way of voting rights for the District as long as it remains a 90% Democratic enclave. Adding three safely Democratic seats to the Congress is less appealing to them than enfranchising citizens who have rights endowed to them by their Creator, and not by their party machinery.
Ideals matter, and DC deserves a fair shake in the legislature. Just giving us a refund won’t cut it.