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WHAT A VIVID IMAGINAtion Bill Rice has, believing that because he and other D.C. residents (or at least a fraction of them) pay federal taxes, they might actually assert some claim to equality with the rest of the United States (“A Tax-Free D.C. Means a Less Free D.C.,” 11/17). In Rice’s view, cutting federal taxes for D.C. residents as a way of stimulating growth would make us a special case and therefore something less than your average American. Right! And what about the tens of thousands of D.C. residents who pay no taxes or receive income tax credits? Are they…ahem…less than equal? (For that matter, what about the thousands of truly filthy-rich Americans who shelter their income and pay no taxes? Are they also Üntermenschen and -womenschen?)
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Another Rice fairy tale: Freeing D.C. from federal income taxes would unleash an invasion of the super-rich. In the Rice view, local real estate prices, which according to the Post, have fallen over the past two years in every D.C. zip code save one, would suddenly skyrocket, and Wards 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 would undergo block-busting in reverse. Surely Rice cannot be blind to the droves of taxpaying parents from those same wards plus 1 and 2 who are already leaving the city in droves because of the city’s impossible schools and its blighted and bloated administration.
Instead of a tax break, Rice supports the notion that Congress might actually grant the D.C. delegate voting rights and assume responsibility for Medicaid, unfunded liabilities, and other “state” functions. In its infinite wisdom, this Congress might sooner bring back slavery and sweatshops as a way of reducing welfare and increasing employment than grant the D.C. delegate a vote or increase its payment to the city. There is no chance that any of this will be achieved, and the depopulation of D.C. by its taxpayers will continue.
To be sure, the possibility that Congress might reduce the federal taxes paid by D.C. residents is only slightly less chimerical than giving the delegate the vote, eliminating the unfunded pension liability, and electing a competent school board. However, some sane individuals (albeit conservatives) have considered the idea, which makes it far more likely than other remedies Rice suggests. Moreover, such a measure could be construed as fitting into the policy objectives of the Hezbollah branch of the House, which currently sets the agenda. So, as distasteful as paying lower taxes might seem to some oppressed D.C. taxpayers like Rice who feel it’s their responsibility to pay taxes even if the likes of Jack Kent Cooke don’t, it might be the only recourse available to granting some economic relief to D.C.
As for me, a stable or even growing population of those rich and brazen enough to insist on responsible government and willing and able to support local businesses easily outweighs Rice’s other concerns. Maybe then the bulk trash would be collected, streets repaired, computers installed, streetlights replaced, snow and ice removed, and schools fixed.
And if Rice wants to pay lots more in taxes in order to feel more equal, I’m sure the feds, on behalf of all the citizens in the states with representatives in Congress, would be obliging and accept his largess. On the other hand, I’ll feel just as good paying lots less.