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New DC License Plates Could Read “End Taxation Without Representation”

by Prince Of Petworth April 20, 2016 at 3:45 pm 35 Comments

dc license plate
Photo by PoPville flickr user Doug Duvall

From a press release:

“At today’s DC Council legislative meeting, Councilmember Charles Allen introduced the End Taxation Without Representation Amendment Act of 2016 to update the District’s standard motor vehicle license plates.

In 2000, the District of Columbia added the phrase “Taxation Without Representation” to DC license plates as a way to raise awareness about the disenfranchisement of our residents. This phrase, while recognizable, lacks a call to action. The residents of the District of Columbia fulfill all obligations of citizenship, yet Congress continually denies us the accompanying rights and privileges.

“Yesterday was the deadline for filing federal taxes, and District residents have once again fulfilled this obligation as American citizens, paying our fair share toward shared national priorities. But because of where we call home, Congress denies us one of the most fundamental rights of Americans – the right to Congressional representation,” said Councilmember Allen.

Under Allen’s bill, the standard license plate would be updated to read “End Taxation Without Representation” and reflect a rallying cry for equality. The bill also would require a new commemorative red and white motor vehicle tag that includes the phrase “We Demand Statehood.” Residents who choose to order a We Demand Statehood tag would pay a one-time application fee of $51 and then an annual display fee of $26 thereafter. These fees would be deposited into the New Columbia Statehood Fund and used to promote statehood and voting rights for the residents of the District of Columbia.”

  • Anon. No. 5

    If we’re going to change it, shouldn’t it be “NO TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION.”

    You know, because that was the original battle cry.

    • Timebomb

      Except there is taxation without representation in our case? The problem is that nobody knows about how dumb our situation is and that it should be changed. Stating the principle we all hold to be valid doesn’t necessarily help with that.

  • DC1

    The current one is protest enough, no need to add or redesign anything. Adding the “End” is not going to do ANYTHING towards the statehood.

    Oh, and charging extra fees for a “We Demand Statehood” tag is just as bad as being taxed without being represented.

    • Anonymous

      What? How in the world is that just as bad?

  • WashingtonShadowSenators

    All well and good to make a minor change to our license plates but I don’t think it will make a big difference. I support two other proposals from years past, including putting the motto on our flag, where it would be reproduced in many places around the country, or naming Nats Park “Taxation Without Representation Field.” I doubt that’s what the lerners will pick for the park’s naming rights though…

    • textdoc

      D.C. has a really nice flag. It would be terrible to mess it up with a slogan, no matter how valid/good the slogan was.

      • Duponter

        +1. I appreciate the call for awareness, but no.

  • jcm

    Man, that’s stupid. The motto is already too crowded, and adding “end” doesn’t change the impact or meaning at all. I think they should change it to “The 51st State”.

    • Duponter

      Alternatively, “The 51st State, Unless Puerto Rico Beats Us To It.”

  • benters

    Councilmember Allen dealing with the important issues.

  • Ben

    This will never fly in a republican controlled congress -t he last thing they want is more Democrat seats. Which just makes me angry because if the roles where reverse (D.C. bled red and congress was Democrat controlled) they’d be chomping at the bits for more representation.

  • PetworthMom

    Glad all the important issues in DC are solved.

  • TJ

    Right now the license plate makes a factual statement.
    The proposed change makes it a demand, effectively co-opting all DC drivers as activists for the change.
    Not really acceptable, even if you agree with the point.

    • jcm

      You can opt out of the current Taxation Without Representation plate. Presumably you’ll continue to be able to do so, if you happen to be pro Taxation Without Representation.

  • textdoc

    I always thought having “Taxation Without Representation” on D.C. license plates erroneously made it sound as though we were in _favor_ of taxation without representation… though I’ve become somewhat inured to it in the past 15-16 years.

  • Anon X

    I always find this idea humorous. We aren’t exactly a colony. There can’t possibly be another place on earth where there is more political and policy influence per capita than DC. Sure, we dont have elected officials with much of a vote, but between the lobbyists, lawyers, staff, executive agency personnel, White House/OMB staff, think tanks, etc we have way more access and influence than the average citizen. There are food service workers and barbers here who have more ability to speak their mind on policy to people who actually make changes than some corporations.

    So, yeah, congress fucks around with DC- but as a city, we are sort of playing the long game. If we had 3 congressional votes, the 700000 residents would unquestionably be the most powerful per capita in the world.

    Let’s keep things in context and play the victim card too vocally here. We may not have congressional reps but we are still better off than many who do.

    • Meme

      Your argument is akin to saying that Woman don’t need the vote because they can influence their husband’s vote.

      • Anon X

        Uh no, its not. Because I am actually talking about a concentration of real political and money power that 0 communities in the world enjoy. You’re talking about a red herring promoted by misogynists.

        Plus, having 2 votes in the Senate might change the political balance – but the odds of it actually changing the situation of DC residents is minimal. The vote in the house would be basically worthless. Thus, why its kind of a silly comparison to the severe trauma the 1%s in colonial times faced when they were taxed by the king. You know, the ultra rich who became terrorists over taxes – at least by today’s definition.

        • Duponter

          DC is more than all of those things. There’s a significant population of poor minorities in this city who have a hard enough time getting people in power to listen to them. The least they can do is have some real representation of their interests in the federal government.

          This isn’t about influence. It’s about a vote.

          • houseintherear

            Well said.

        • jcm

          It’s silly to claim that having lobbyists living in DC gives DC the same power as having actual representatives. Case in point: last week, new Metro GM Paul Wiedefeld met with the MD and VA senators to discuss the maintenance plan. There was no representative from DC in the room. That’s the kind of access we are missing.
          Not to mention that MD and VA have at least as many lobbyists, lawyers, staff, executive agency personnel, White House/OMB staff, think tanks, etc as we do, and probably more.

          • textdoc

            Agreed with JCM.
            Maybe _some_ D.C. residents have easy access to the ears of those in power… but most D.C. residents don’t.
            I remember a friend of a friend making this argument and my being stunned. The guy had worked at a think tank and I guess he assumed everyone’s experience was like his own. Completely myopic.
            And most career federal employees don’t have any special access to the people in charge of federal departments/agencies — those people tend to be political appointees who work primarily with other political appointees.

    • alurin

      That is an absurd argument. Even if you thought that Congress listens more to their barbers than to the corporations who donate money to their campaigns, that’s hardly the same as having actual representatives in Congress.
      Are we as badly off as the colonists before the Revolution? Of course not (for one thing, we do have a vote in Presidential elections), but that’s hardly the point. Either you believe that epresentation is a fundamental principle of American government, or you don’t.

      • Eric Says

        It’s more than just not having representation in the House or the Senate. It’s Congress deciding that we have to elect two city counsel members from an “under represented party.” Its that if Congress doesn’t like what we are voting on they won’t let us count our ballots. It’s not democracy.

    • Anon X

      Sure whatever. The average DC citizen has way more political power than the average American anywhere else.

      Somehow, we’re special though – even though we’re not. There are a handful of other areas that lack a congressional vote and its pretty evident if you know anything about those places that we benefit tremendously without a vote in congress whereas they do not. An additional substantial federal spending project in American Samoa has the potential to revolutionize life for them, whereas we have billions of federal projects spent in our city every year.

      Sure, there are poor people in DC – but the poor in DC are still better off than the poor in many American cities and appalachia, so i’m having a hard time seeing how the partial disenfranchisement of a relatively powerful and wealthy citizenry is worth so much ink and airtime.

      Not to mention, the majority of people who live here did it, and continue to do it, with the means and opportunity to move somewhere that they could have that representation. For example, if I lived in Russia and had the means and opportunity to leave, I would. Or, even Mississippi – which gets several elected representatives.

      Basically, there are a ton of problems that do plague our city – but the lack of political power and voice in advocating for our own self interests isnt really high on that list. Its a nice concrete, easy to complain about, easy to boil down to a nice tidy soundbite, and offers a simple solution to a seemingly simple issue, but in terms of changes that will actually make an impact… its not really that high.

      • west_egg

        All of your arguments fall somewhere in the range of “flimsy” to “terrible.”

      • Eric Says

        Democracy is one of the founding principals of this country. It sounds like you are saying that it isn’t important. Especially since the poor people in DC are better off than poor people elsewhere.

        The US territories that have no representation in Congress don’t pay income tax. DC citizens do pay income tax. Those territories also have the self determination to petition for statehood, should they choose to do so, we do not.

        If I choose to live abroad I still have representation in the Congress and Senate, but if I happen to live in DC, I have none. What sense does that make?

  • E

    The real question re: “Taxation without representation”… why is the focus always on getting both? Can we make neither an option? #TeamNeither

    • Duponter

      “End Taxation Without Representation” doesn’t imply support for neither or both. It could equally mean advocating either as an option. I’m with you – honestly I’d be just as happy not being federally taxed like some of our other U.S. territories.

      • west_egg

        That would be a horrible outcome. The city would be flooded with wealthy people buying property so they could avoid taxation. DC would become the country’s most expensive place to live practically overnight.

  • Hill Res

    Mr Allen:
    How about dealing with the rash of robberies, attacks, and car jacking taking place on Hill East. This license bill makes you look like a fool and out of touch.
    Also, glad to see the strict gun laws are having a visible effect these days. The only ones with guns are the criminals.
    Useless is a term that comes to mind when I think of our elected officials these days. This article reinforces that.

    • Truxtoner

      Yes, because it is obviously impossible to address more than one issue at a time? That criminals have guns has a lot to do with our proximity to states like Virginia that have pretty lax gun laws. Perhaps a vote in Congress would help us start solving that issue.

      • textdoc

        +1 (esp. on addressing more than one issue at a time).

  • Tees

    Personally, if given the option, I’d go with not paying federal taxes over having an elected representative. If you think otherwise, check out our current elected leaders and ask whether you would want them representing us in the House or Senate, cuz that’s who we’d end up with.

    • Anon

      Senator Bowser….

      Given her penchant for creating task forces to investigate issues rather than deal with them head-on, maybe the Senate truly is the place for her.


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