The Cato Institute’s William Niskanen write in the D.C. Examiner today about the efforts to give the District of Columbia a vote in Congress and advocates an idea that I’ve written favorably about in the past:
WASHINGTON (Map, News) – For some years now, District of Columbia officials have bemoaned our lack of full representation in the House of Representatives and used our license plates to advertise the status of District residents as subjects of “taxation without representation.”
A proposal to grant the District a full vote in the House has passed the House and the Senate government affairs committees, and a full Senate vote is scheduled for July. President Bush threatens to veto the measure if it passes. But the congressmen promoting it are overlooking a radical and vastly superior alternative: giving the bulk of the District back to Maryland, just as Congress returned Alexandria and Arlington to Virginia in 1846.
As Niskanen points out, retrocession would have a positive impact for the District of Columbia far beyond simply getting a vote in Congress:
The effects of the change could be dramatic. The population of the District has declined about 27 percent since 1950 — a consequence of high taxes, lousy schools and high crime rates. A retrocession to Maryland and an increased prospect of better government could substantially reverse this decline.
The most likely new residents of Washington, Md., would be those who are now most deterred by the District’s high taxes and poor government services: wealthier individuals and families, those with school-age children, those who expect to leave estates and businesses — especially unincorporated businesses, restaurants and hotels.
Washington’s new residents would increase the political demands for better schools and lower crime, reducing the problems of the two major District services with the worst records. And these changes would further increase the value of residential and commercial property, increasing property tax revenues without increasing effective tax rates.
It might also give the city government the opportunity to actually suceed
The Washington government would no longer bear the rapidly increasing costs of Medicaid, the responsibility for administering the University of the District of Columbia, and the special problems of providing long-term incarceration. Maryland would assume the responsibility for providing higher education, public welfare, health and hospitals, highways and prisons.
And, notwithstanding some political complications, Congress could theoretically do this without the consent of either the District or Maryland:
As it turns out, neither Maryland voters nor their legislators would have to approve a retrocession. On its own authority, Congress could return most of the District to Maryland, other than a smaller area designated as the new “Seat of the Government of the United States,” as it did in returning Alexandria and Arlington to Virginia.
More importantly, though, retrocession might actually help address the problems that the D.C. government faces today. As Niskanen points out, a single vote on the floor of the House isn’t going to do a thing about fixing what’s really wrong with District Government.
H/T: James Joyner
A Vote For D.C. That’s Unconstitutional
Congress Examines Legality Of D.C. Vote Bill
White House Opposes D.C. Vote Bill
The D.C. Voting Rights Crybabies
Will Bush Veto The D.C. Vote Bill ?
Memo From The Washington Post: Ignore The Constitution, Just Vote Already
D.C. Vote Bill Stalls In The House
The Washington Post: Ignoring The Constitution Again
The D.C. Vote Bill Is On It’s Way Back
The D.C. Voting Rights Crybabies Are Back
The D.C. Vote Bill: The Battle Begins Anew
The D.C. Vote Bill Is Back
The D.C. Vote Bill: Back In Congress
House Passes D.C. Vote Bill
Americans Support A Vote For D.C., But Not The D.C. Vote Bill
Damn The Constitution, Full Speed Ahead
Orrin Hatch Ignores The Constitution
Politics, The Constitution, And The D.C. Vote Bill
D.C. Vote Bill Placed On Senate Fast Track
Harry Reid Backs The D.C. Vote Bill
D.C. Vote Bill Advances In Senate
Trolling For Votes In The Senate