The more they keep talking about the “commuter tax” the worse they look but the more we get distracted. First, Steny Hoyer drew the line in the sand to say that a commuter tax would never happen (at least under his watch). Then, he tried to make himself feel better and DCVote and the Washington Post actually posted his hypocritical statement yet didn’t call him out for two counts of hypocrisy in one very very short statement. And now, both Chris Van Hollen and Gerry Connolly are weighing on the issue making themselves look no better than Mr. Hoyer has over the last week.
First, we dealt with Mr. Hoyer’s initial statement last week in a post viewed here. But his clarification statement seems to make his position less clear and more hypocritical. It seems as if he’s trying to talk his liberal guilt away with this statement from his office below: Mr. Hoyer, like other Members representing districts near D.C., does not support a commuter tax. However, his support for giving the District a seat in the House and control over its internal affairs remains as strong as ever. He does not believe the District receives unfair advantages, compared to other U.S. states and cities, from the Federal government when it comes to financing its operations. He values the contributions made by D.C. residents to our nation, and continues to strongly advocate for the District’s right to control its own affairs (http://www.dcvote.org/media/media.cfm?mediaID=4337).
So he supports our ability to control our own internal affairs but not if it means that raising revenue through taxes on non-resident income is considered an internal affair. States raise taxes, some through non-resident income taxes, in order to pay for goods and services and to promote the general welfare of each state. But in Mr. Hoyer’s case, just like Rand Paul and Trent Franks, Congressman Steny Hoyer believes we, in the District, should have the right to govern ourselves the way we would like provided it aligns with his beliefs. As we said last week this logic is no better than those on the other side of the aisle he so regularly blasts for their meddling in District affairs. His clarifying statement above does nothing to make his position more palatable to those of us in the District.
Mr. Hoyer’s suburban mates, Mr. Van Hollen and Mr. Connolly, have also made some inaccurate statements about the District, the federal government, and the commuter tax. The federal payment which Mr. Van Hollen alludes to doesn’t exist as it was gotten rid of years ago. And Mr. Connolly states that if a commuter tax were imposed federal buildings/offices should be moved to the suburbs. Both seem to imply that their congressional districts don’t have a HUGE advantage based on their proximity to the nation’s capital. Both members have multiple large federal facilities in their districts and have mega-corporations based in their district’s simply because of their proximity to the nation’s capital. So yes, the District of Columbia is a ‘government town’ but so are the suburbs. The economies of the suburbs, like those of the District are driven by government policies, contracts, and grants.
To dig a bit deeper I got curious about our biggest government run industry, the Defense industry, to see where these big companies set up shop. I found that of the top 10 Defense contractors in the country 6 of them are based in the suburbs of DC in either Mr. Connolly’s district or Mr. Van Hollen’s. In Mr. Van Hollen’s case the biggest defense contractor in the country, Lockheed Martin, is based in Rockville, MD. Lockheed Martin received over $16 billion in defense contracts in 2010. That’s more in government contracts than the entire 2009 District budget which was around $11 billion dollars with only $3 billion coming from the federal government. I’d say both the Virginia and Maryland suburbs are doing just fine with both government jobs in their districts and with government funded companies setting up shop in their districts. Here’s a list of the top 10 defense contractors in 2010 and the amount of government funding they received that year (http://washingtontechnology.com/toplists/top-100-lists/2010.aspx) and don’t forget the jobs and state revenue those contracts produce for Maryland and Virginia:
1. Lockheed Martin: Rockville, MD – $16.7 Billion
2. Northrup Grumman: Falls Church, VA – $11 Billion
3. Boeing: Chicago, IL – $10.4 Billion
4. Raytheon: Waltham, MA – $6.7 Billion
5. SAIC: McLean, VA – $5.5 Billion
6. General Dynamics: Falls Chruch, VA – $5.4 Billion
7. KBR: Houston, TX – $4.5 Billion
8. L-3 Communications Corp: New York, NY – $4.1 Billion
9. Booz Allen Hamilton: McLean, VA – $3.4 Billion
10. Computer Sciences Corp: Falls Church, VA – $3.3 Billion
Ultimately, the debate about the commuter tax is another distraction, similar to the bad abortion bill on the House floor (HR 3803), from the real question facing the District and the nation: should the governing structure for the District of Columbia derive its power from the consent of the people living, working, and paying taxes in it? These distractions should not prevent 618,000 Americans from becoming full and equal citizens. Statehood gets us free from the meddling of Steny Hoyer, Trent Franks, and Rand Paul and allows us to focus on what the Constitution says ‘that government derives its power from the consent of the people.’ Is democracy too much to ask for the inhabitants of the District of Columbia?
I think not…join the push for Statehood: firstname.lastname@example.org