The slogan predates America herself: “No taxation without representation.” Every child should learn about it in their history class, stemming from the Stamp Act of 1765 and, more famously, the Boston Tea Party.
James Otis argued, “Taxation without representation is tyranny.” Concerned about tyranny’s temptations and giving the seat of the federal government too much power, the founders didn’t give it an elected representative, with the unintended consequence that the citizens of Washington, D.C., were taxed without a representative. This was partially rectified with the ratification of the 23rd amendment, but the residents of D.C. are still taxed and still lack a representative whose votes count.
Fortunately we have congressmen who are trying to fix the taxation without representation problem.
On Dec. 19, 2011, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) introduced H.R. 3731, the No Taxation Without Representation Act. Gohmert also introduced it in the previous Congress to address this injustice. But listening to our locally elected officials, you wouldn’t know it. Perhaps they were too busy seeking congressional support to kick out the Occupy protesters from McPherson Square, or perhaps they were making travel arrangements to visit each of the 50 state capitals to lobby for D.C. statehood. How could the taxpayers’ $4,000 have been better spent than on a daytrip to the Granite State?
Speaking of Congress, where is our esteemed delegate, Eleanor Holmes Norton? She has been conspicuously quiet about this bill, which stems from another bill Norton introduced back in 2001, during the 107th Congress. That bill would have amended the Internal Revenue Code to provide a tax exemption to District of Columbia residents for years during which such residents did not have full voting representation in the Congress. It seems that, given the choice between helping her constituents by co-sponsoring a bill with a Republican, or abandoning them, she’ll abandon them.
Gohmert’s bill has attempted to steer clear of anything that might alienate the D.C. citizenry or local politicians. The Gohmert bill only deals with the non-taxable status on D.C. residents — no poison pills regarding abortion, gun control or needle exchanges —setting aside any issue of D.C. statehood or congressional representation. Is this really the only reason she or Mayor Gray can give to withhold their support? It’s not everything we want? Over the last three years, President Obama has often been quick to say, “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” That would apply here as well.
There is only one local candidate who is talking about this bill: Republican Nelson Rimensnyder, who is running for U.S. Shadow Senator. A veteran of D.C. politics, Rimensnyder is making his support for this bill the cornerstone of his campaign. And like us, he doesn’t understand why Norton isn’t behind a proposition she once championed.
Nelson Rimensynder may not be a household name in the District, and the concept of a U.S. Shadow Senator may be foreign to many if not most, but he’s an advocate who is working to help the citizens of Washington, D.C. Rimensnyder, unlike Norton or Mayor Gray, will work with both parties in Congress to improve the lot of ordinary Washingtonians. Nobody deserves tyranny, but we get it in the form of taxation without representation when we do not hold our elected representatives accountable.
Robert Turner is president of the D.C. chapter of Log Cabin Republicans. Reach him at [email protected] or @DCBigPappa on Twitter. Mike Hubbard is a board member of the D.C. chapter of Log Cabin. Reach him at [email protected] or @mikeahub on Twitter.