- The Washington Times - Monday, May 6, 2002

The majority of the 13 members on the D.C. Council have jumped in line behind Mayor Anthony Williams, who's in sync with the ideals of the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute, a think tank born last year, with a steering committee that includes Peter Edelman. Surely, you remember Mr. Edelman, who parted with the Clinton administration over welfare reform, and is the hubby of Children's Defense Fund matron Marian Wright Edelman. Well, it seems most lawmakers and the mayor have bought hook, line and sinker into the institute's line that the District's legendary tax burden is an urban myth.
So, instead of cutting taxes, curbing spending and trimming the bureaucracy, D.C. officials appear headed straight toward Barryland, where legislation would stop the pending 1999 Tax Parity Act dead in its tracks. Hear the glee. Listen to Council Chairman Linda Cropp, who says the income-tax cuts could be restored only "if the city has the funds to support" them. Said lead reneger Harold Brazil de facto chairman of the so-called Fiscal Six, a group of Democratic council members who essentially say no tax cuts but more spending "cutting taxes comes when we can afford it." If they sound like a bunch of Tweeties, it is because they are. They are repeating what the Fiscal Policy Institute has been saying since last fall that the city cannot afford income-tax cuts. To the contrary, what the city cannot afford is spend, spend, spend instead of cut, cut, cut.
It seems, then, that this is the perfect opportunity to line up the tax-and-spenders before we move any further along into the 2003 budget process. In addition to the mayor, Mrs. Cropp and Mr. Brazil, the D.C. renegers include Sandy Allen (Ward 8 Democrat), Kevin Chavous (Ward 7 Democrat), Adrian Fenty (Ward 4 Democrat), Jim Graham (Ward 1 Democrat), Phil Mendelson (At-Large Democrat) and Vincent Orange (Ward 5 Democrat). A message was left on Wednesday afternoon with Eric Rogers in Council member Sharon Ambrose's office (Ward 6 Democrat) and John Abbott in Council member's Carol Schwartz's office, but no one returned the call.
Council members Jack Evans (Ward 2 Democrat) and David Catania (At-Large Republican), two original co-sponsors of the tax-cutting legislation in 1999, are clearly outside the box on this one. They understood then that, while high taxes weren't the only reason residents voted with their feet in years past, they certainly played a big role. The problem is that some of those troublesome old habits, particularly a lack of fiscal discipline and a dysfunctional school system, are still troublesome habits. The least the council and mayor can do is to make amends for that longstanding incompetence by granting modest reimbursements in the form of income-tax relief.


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