POLITICS

Obama to add 'taxation without representation' plate to limo

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Photo - D.C. Councilwoman Mary Cheh displays the license plate that was presented to President Obama's representatives. (Photo: Alan Blinder/The Washington Examiner)
D.C. Councilwoman Mary Cheh displays the license plate that was presented to President Obama's representatives. (Photo: Alan Blinder/The Washington Examiner)
Politics,Local,DC,Alan Blinder,Campaign 2012

President Obama agreed Tuesday to add the District's "taxation without representation" slogan to his limousine's license plates, a move hailed as a victory by D.C. statehood advocates.

"President Obama has lived in the District now for four years and has seen firsthand how patently unfair it is for working families in D.C. to work hard, raise children and pay taxes without having a vote in Congress," the White House said. "Attaching these plates to the presidential vehicles demonstrates the president's commitment to the principle of full representation for the people of the District of Columbia."

Obama's decision came less than a week after Council Chairman Phil Mendelson and Ward 3 Councilwoman Mary Cheh visited Obama aides to make the case for the license plate design, which President Clinton used during his second term.

But President George W. Bush opted for a plate without the slogan, saying he didn't want to use his limousine to make "a political statement" about a city that both pays and receives more federal tax dollars per capita than any other jurisdiction. Obama stuck with Bush's decision throughout his first term.

Obama's resistance had angered D.C. advocates, many of whom complained he was ignoring a city that had broadly supported him.

"The absence of the tags said something ... not helpful," Mendelson said.SClBCity lawmakers unanimously approved a resolution last week pressing Obama to restore the Clinton-era tags, action that came after the advocacy group DC Vote started a petition seeking to nudge Obama in the same direction.

The group said it was "overjoyed" at Obama's decision.

"It's certainly a symbolic gesture, but in a struggle for equal rights, symbolic gestures are extremely important," spokesman James Jones said. "It certainly raises our faith that the president is going to be with us in this second term on the issues that really do make a difference like budget autonomy and getting a vote in Congress."SClBMayor Vincent Gray had similar aspirations.

"I'm hoping this will become a catalyst for him becoming a really vigorous advocate," Gray said.

The license plate will begin appearing on Obama's limousine this weekend.

Examiner White House Correspondent Brian Hughes contributed reporting.

ablinder@washingtonexaminer.com

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