Obama to add 'taxation without representation' plates to limo this weekend

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Local,DC,Alan Blinder,D.C. Council,Vincent Gray

President Obama has agreed to a request from the D.C. Council to add the city's "taxation without representation" slogan to the license plates on his limousine.

"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 in a statement. "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 and his willingness to fight for voting rights, home rule and budget autonomy for the District."

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 Bill Clinton used during his second term in the White House.

But President George W. Bush opted for a D.C. plate without the slogan, and Obama stuck with Bush's decision until Tuesday.

Obama's resistance had angered D.C. advocates, many of whom complained that the Democrat was all but ignoring a city that supported him in large numbers in both presidential elections he contested.

"The absence of the tags said something, which was not helpful," Mendelson said.

Although the issue had been largely dormant, lawmakers unanimously approved a "sense of the council" resolution earlier this month that pressed Obama to restore the Clinton-era tags, spurring the West Wing visit from Mendelson and Cheh.

The legislative action came after the advocacy group D.C. Vote started a petition on the White House's website that sought to nudge Obama in the same direction.

A spokesman for the group said it was "ecstatic" and "overjoyed" at Obama's decision.

"It's certainly a symbolic gesture, but in a struggle for equal rights, symbolic gestures are extremely important. If people don't know about our situation, we're not going to get anything done," 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."

Mayor Vincent Gray had similar aspirations.

"I'm glad the president has seen the importance of doing this," Gray said. "I'm hoping this will become a catalyst for him becoming a really vigorous advocate."

White House officials said the license plate would appear on Obama's limousine this weekend -- ahead of Monday's inaugural festivities, including the televised parade -- and remain on his vehicle throughout his second term.

Washington Examiner White House Correspondent Brian Hughes contributed to this report.

ablinder@washingtonexaminer.com

Below: Results of The Washington Examiner's unscientific online poll on whether the president should put D.C.'s "Taxation Without Representation" plates on his limo
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