Mark Segraves, wtop.com
WASHINGTON – A group of D.C. residents led by the advocacy group D.C. Vote is pressuring the White House to change the license plate on the presidential limo.
A petition on the White House website asks the president to place the “Taxation Without Representation” on his limousine before the Jan. 21 inaugural ceremonies.
The petition reads:
“District of Columbia residents pay taxes and fight and die in wars, but do not have a vote in Congress.
In 2000, D.C.’s locally-elected leaders made ‘Taxation Without Representation’ the official license plate motto to demonstrate the injustice experienced by more than 600,000 Americans who live in the capital city.
President Obama supports a vote in Congress for the people of D.C. But the license plates on the Presidential motorcade do not include the Taxation Without Representation message.
We ask that the Administration place the Taxation Without Representation plates on his vehicle prior to the inauguration so the nation will clearly understand the political reality in D.C.”
In November 2000, the District changed the motto on the license plates from “Celebrate and Discover” to “Taxation Without Representation” as a way to draw attention to the District’s lack of voting representation in Congress.
As one of his last acts in office, President Bill Clinton had the new tags placed on all White House vehicles including the presidential limousine.
When President George Bush took office he refused to place the “taxation” tags on his fleet, so the city issued an alternative tag without the motto. Despite numerous requests since the 2008 election, the Obama administration has refused to place the “taxation” tags on any White House vehicles.
In his first term, the White House has been mostly silent on issues surrounding D.C. voting rights and the license plate even though he won 92 percent of the District’s votes four years ago. Obama won the District again with 91 percent of the votes in last month’s presidential election, according to the D.C. Board of Elections.
James Jones, with D.C. Vote, advocates for full federal voting rights for D.C. residents and says the petition is about more than getting the president to make a symbolic gesture.
“We also want to shine a bright light on the injustice of taxation without representation that remains a political reality for the people of D.C.,” Jones says.
As per the White House policy, if the petition on the “We The People” section of the executive’s website reaches 25,000 signatures, the White House will issue a response.
The “We The People” petition section currently has 168 open petitions on issues ranging from the repeal of “Obamacare” to allowing Louisiana to withdraw from the United States. Some petitions, like one seeking tougher gun laws, have hundreds of thousands of signatures. Others, like the D.C. license plate petition, only have a handful of signatures.
The administration has posted 84 responses to those petitions meeting the 25,000 signature threshold.
Jones and others are hoping they’ll get the needed signatures and the response will include changing the license plate before it rolls down Pennsylvania Avenue on Jan. 21.
“The promise of democracy represented by the inaugural parade just isn’t a reality for the people of D.C.,” Jones says.
(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)