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The Real Outrage This Tax Day

By Jo-Ann Armao

Each time I signed my name to a tax return last night, I felt a bit of satisfaction. Some of it came from knowing that I'll (barely) meet the deadline and get a refund. But there was also the simple enjoyment of knowing I was fulfilling a duty as an American citizen. For residents of the District of Columbia, however, that feeling is sullied by the fact they have no say in the federal government.

It’s unconscionable that another April 15 has come and the 600,000-or-so residents of the nation’s capital -- who do their duty in paying taxes -- remain disenfranchised. The D.C. voting rights bill that seeks to rectify this 200-year injustice is still pending in Congress. The Senate approved the measure to give the District a voting representative in the House but attached a noxious gun amendment that makes the bill’s future uncertain. A spokesperson for House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) says that Democratic leaders remain focused on finding a way to advance the legislation when Congress returns from its break.

Republicans, meanwhile, are busy sponsoring tax-day tea parties today. Is anyone else struck by the irony that a party largely opposed to D.C. voting rights is trying to make political hay of “taxation without representation?”

Indeed, a better use of their time would be to stroll down Pennsylvania Avenue to the John A. Wilson Building, where the full indignity of taxation without representation is on display. The D.C. Council has installed a billboard that keeps a running tally of federal taxes paid by District residents since the beginning of 2009. As of around noon today, the total was more than $1 billion. To be precise, $1,022,803.534.78. And counting.

By Jo-Ann Armao  | April 15, 2009; 2:39 PM ET
Categories:  Armao  | Tags:  Jo-Ann Armao  
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I agree, and I am not from Washington DC, either. This is just plain wrong.

Posted by: martymar123 | April 15, 2009 2:56 PM | Report abuse

I paid my taxes and hope to pay a heck of a lot more next year...;-)

Fei Hu

Posted by: Fei_Hu | April 15, 2009 3:45 PM | Report abuse

The Constitution is very clear. The nation's capital will be administered by the Congress. As for Taxation without Representation I agree, but the solution is District residents get Federal Tax Free status just like residents of other US Territories. But alas, the party in power would have none of it. You get the government you deserve,

Posted by: the_node | April 15, 2009 3:46 PM | Report abuse


You cannot believe how tired I am of hearing that the Constitution is very clear on this issue. If it was as clear as you say, would we be having this discussion? (If anything, it's clearer the other way, with the District Clause, but anti-enfranchisement people seem disinclined to read that and see.)
Besides, the party in power is doing a better job fighting for our interests than the party that WAS in power. After all, almost all the opposition comes from the GOP, the gun amendment was introduced by a GOP senator, and so on. Meanwhile, we'll pay our taxes, as long as we get the vote everyone else takes for granted.

Posted by: ravensfan20008 | April 15, 2009 6:56 PM | Report abuse

the_node: Heehee.

If the District was made a tax free haven there wouldn't be enough room in D. C. to accomodate all of the multi-million mansions that would be going up....


Posted by: toritto | April 15, 2009 8:05 PM | Report abuse

bullet1 wrote:
people are sick of this Obama change policy of today the Texas Gov. says that Texas will leave the Union...There is NO representation of the people by Congress. Just the Bankers and the Rich Corp. leaders get bailed out and joe public pays the bill....Time to Leave....28 states and counting want to leave the Union. Hows that for change Obama!! Texas will lead and others will follow...

Posted by: bullet1 | April 16, 2009 12:12 AM | Report abuse

I would agree, if they didn't get significantly more in financial benefits than they pay in.

If they want to vote, let them vote in Maryland. It's clear that they would vote along the same lines. (They just voted to give illegal aliens 8,000 more driver licenses, and to allow them to renew them until 2015.)

Posted by: postfan1 | April 16, 2009 3:27 AM | Report abuse

All I saw at these "Tea Bag" protests, both on TV and in person, were a bunch of angry white people using their kids as props. I don't think they represented the truly disenfranchised.

If the Republican Party wants to retake power, they'd better think of a better strategy very soon.

Posted by: DontWannaMyPostID | April 16, 2009 7:05 AM | Report abuse

"bullet1 wrote:
people are sick of this Obama change policy of today the Texas Gov. says that Texas will leave the Union...There is NO representation of the people by Congress. Just the Bankers and the Rich Corp. leaders get bailed out and joe public pays the bill....Time to Leave....28 states and counting want to leave the Union. Hows that for change Obama!! Texas will lead and others will follow...

Posted by: bullet1 | April 16, 2009 12:12 AM

This has nothing to do with Obama's policies and everything to do with Obama being a Democrat. The "outrage" of the right seems to be reaching epic levels at the moment... Malkin, Hannity, et. al. aligning themselves with, well, apparently the KKK and the Neo-Nazis in thinking that the DHS is investigating them comes to mind. We haven't seen this Presidency through for 6 months yet! Where was this chorus of dissent the last 8 years...? Oh yeah, there was a Republican in the White House.

Give me a break.

Posted by: jenzinoh | April 16, 2009 8:19 AM | Report abuse

The Constitution is very clear that only states will have representation in Congress. If you want a representative, you had better move because even if a law was passed by Congress and signed by the President, it would be struck down by the Supreme Court.

Posted by: kroverstreet | April 16, 2009 9:53 AM | Report abuse

If the district were federally tax free, that does not mean that the district would not then tax them at the federal rate. It only means that the federal gov't wouldn't take their money sans representation. The tax haven arguement is a sham. On the other side, perhaps all the people moving back would expect a functioning school system.

Posted by: the_node | April 16, 2009 10:54 AM | Report abuse

"It’s unconscionable that another April 15 has come and the 600,000-or-so residents of the nation’s capital -- who do their duty in paying taxes -- remain disenfranchised."

I wonder how much money flows in to DC versus the taxes payed by those residents.

Posted by: spamsux1 | April 16, 2009 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Solution for lack of representation; cede residential portions of D.C. back to Maryland and Virginia.

Posted by: knjincvc | April 16, 2009 12:09 PM | Report abuse

Given that my tax dollars are being used to deprive Americans of their civil liberties (yes, even under Saint Obama) and to kill innocent people half a world away, I cannot muster the same joy in paying.

And the fact that my money is being used in these immoral enterprises also gives the lie to the fairy-tale notion that I have "representation" and some sort of say in the federal government's policies.

Posted by: EnjoyEverySandwich | April 16, 2009 12:20 PM | Report abuse

In Richmond, Virginia the focus of the Tea Party was about HOW our tax dollars are being spent - not 'taxation without representation'. The bailouts are only going to continue devaluing an already weak US dollar.

Posted by: RHobson | April 16, 2009 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Okay, I got you on how much they have paid. How much have they gotten back ??? Hopefully this doesn't demonstrate another deficit - we have more than enough.

Unfortunately it looks like the number of people is going to keep growing if the first 100 days of this administration is any indication. The bright side is that they should also be spending money in DC

Posted by: flyguy49kc | April 16, 2009 2:21 PM | Report abuse

I don't recall seeing a 50 foot fence ringing the DC area last time I was there. In fact, I think I know several people who used to live in DC then moved elsewhere. The beauty of the United States is that if one does not like their situation they are free to exercise a vote with their feet. If the residents of DC are troubled by their perceived lack of representation in the Congress, they are certainly welcome to take up residence in Maryland or Virginia.

Posted by: rexlex1 | April 16, 2009 6:00 PM | Report abuse

The answer is simple; move to N VA or MD. Then you can pay taxes AND have representation!

Posted by: Legionnaire | April 16, 2009 6:07 PM | Report abuse

The original patriots of 1773 protested against taxation without representation. The protesters yesterday have representation. They had the ability to vote in the last presidential election...and lost. Just as I had to grit my teeth for the past eight years while George Bush gave 1.2 Trillion dollars in tax cuts to the rich while my paycheck kept getting smaller, just as Bush wasted $800 Billion on a war of his choice, and gave no bid contracts to the likes of Halliburton and Blackwater. Now the Republicans have to take it like a man and accept the will of the majority. And that majority wants Obama's policies to succeed. 95% of taxpayers are getting a tax cut, the other 5% will continue to whine and hold sham protests.

Posted by: logcabin1836 | April 16, 2009 9:08 PM | Report abuse

I think I was struck by the underhanded way it was billed as a 'grassroots' movement when it was clearly molded an directed by Fox news and a group of republican has beens.

They have beggered this Nation with their purchase of votes with tax cuts, spending like drunken sailors.

But they are AWOL when it comes to paying bills... just the same old deadbeats.

Posted by: dutchess2 | April 17, 2009 12:01 AM | Report abuse

Sorry Jo-Ann, if you want to representation in congress, move to a state. I don't think the government employees living and working at the seat of government should have a representative, and the people who wrote the constitution seem to agree with me. The only people "represented" in Washington are supposed to be citizens of the states. The dems want to change that to add another dem, but it isn't going to happen. 600,000 government employees want their own congressman and senator? Yeah right.

Posted by: hdc77494 | April 17, 2009 12:03 AM | Report abuse

It's a constitutional problem, but the solution is simple: Amend the Constitution.

Is there anyone who would be against a Constitutional Amendment granting DC a congressional representative?

If so, I'd love to hear why.

Posted by: VTDuffman | April 17, 2009 10:04 AM | Report abuse

The Ensign Amendment explained (for visual learners):

Posted by: MikeLicht | April 17, 2009 10:59 AM | Report abuse

Bravo, Jo-Ann. I've had a stomach-full of these pseudo-conservatives and their boot-licking lackeys. D. C. (and every citizen within our borders) deserves - no, has a right to - representation in Congress. Any less is an abrogation of our principles and responsibilities. So much boo-hooing by a cabal that benefits from tax proposals of the new administration while it dreams of indecent riches like those bankers who couldn't work were it not for fat bonuses. What a world!

Posted by: Jazzman7 | April 17, 2009 4:24 PM | Report abuse

President Obama says he will revise the tax code. What an original idea. However, Glenn Beck has been discussing the behemouth, 65,000 page tax code for a couple weeks on his TV show. Maybe the President is a "closet Glenn Beck" fan.

Posted by: tiotom77 | April 17, 2009 5:31 PM | Report abuse

Lets go ahead and give DC representation in Congress. Then they can elect Marion Barry or some other criminal to be their representative. No thanks. They get what they deserve.

Posted by: rbfanning53 | April 18, 2009 11:32 AM | Report abuse

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