Feb 1, 2023 - Politics
Town Talker

Scoop: Biden snubs D.C. 'taxation without representation' car tags

Zoomed in photo of Biden's limo license plate without "End Taxation Without Representation"

The Beast limo — and its D.C. tags — travel the world, as seen here in Geneva in 2021. Photo: MARTIAL TREZZINI/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden appears to be snubbing D.C.’s “End Taxation Without Representation” license plates.

Driving the news: A review of videos and photos of The Beast show Biden has been rolling without the motto, which is the default on D.C. tags.

Why it matters: The 672,000 residents of the nation’s capital, who pay taxes but can’t elect voting members of Congress, have long sought the solidarity of 1600 Pennsylvania, symbolic or otherwise.

  • Bill Clinton used the plates late in his term. George W. Bush removed them.
  • D.C. Council members petitioned Barack Obama to bring them back, which he ultimately did in 2013. The Trump White House spiked them in 2018.

The big picture: Biden's license plate snub adds insult to injury for hometown D.C. Even though he supports statehood, local leaders have real gripes simmering with the prez.

  • For one, Biden has declined to order hundreds of thousands of federal workers back to the office full-time — the number-one ask of Mayor Bowser and inside-the-Beltway business heavies who believe a return to the office will resuscitate downtown’s zombie economy.

The president was also no help removing a federal block on D.C. legalizing recreational weed sales when Democrats controlled Congress. That meant the District lost a giant chance to unlock a new revenue driver at a critical time.

  • Of note: Biden and Bowser haven’t had an Oval Office sitdown. Bowser and Donald Trump had one in early 2017.

🔎 Hiding in plain sight: I reviewed over a dozen photos and video clips spanning from early 2021 through this month. And I didn’t see the protest tags on either The Beast or a presidential Chevy Suburban that POTUS uses on trips around the globe.

Zoomed in photo of Biden's SUV license plate without "End Taxation Without Representation"
The president's Chevy Suburban (and close-up) during a Jan. 19, 2023 trip to California. Photo: ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images

What they’re saying: One way Biden can speak up more about District autonomy “is to put Taxation Without Representation on his license plate,” Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton told me.

  • “I’ll be sending him a letter indicating that,” she added.

Flashback: You might recall that on Inauguration Day in January 2021, Biden’s limo sported a spiffy blue license plate that did say “Taxation Without Representation.”

The other side: The White House did not respond to numerous emails and phone calls seeking comment.

💬 Town Talker is a weekly column on local politics and power. Drop me a line about the talk of the town: [email protected]


Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Washington D.C..

More Washington D.C. stories