Signs have been popping up in my neighborhood that read “Congress. Don’t tread on D.C.” Last Friday night before the stroke of midnight, Congress responded to the city with a message of its own: “Take your sign and shove it.”
The budget deal that averted a federal government shutdown delivered a below-the-belt blow to local self-determination. Congress used the budget negotiations to attach riders that prevent locally raised tax dollars from being used for reproductive services for low-income District women. Another provision forced a federally funded school-voucher program on the city.
If that weren’t galling enough, President Obama threw the city under the bus and bought the deal, telling GOP House Speaker John Boehner, “John, I will give you D.C. abortion. I’m not happy about that.” Boo-hoo. Like hell.
If there were any question about where voters in the nation’s capital stand with this White House and Congress, the answer is in: We don’t. The District finds itself still under federal boots, to be stomped at will.
Obama, Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, the triumvirate behind the deal that sold out the District, ranked National Public Radio and Planned Parenthood ahead of the District in importance. Those two organizations were spared congressional wrath this time around. Maybe it’s because NPR and Planned Parenthood have friends that stick by them. Maybe it’s because Obama believes NPR and Planned Parenthood are too important, too valuable, to be traded away like . . . oh, never mind.
Now what? Another march, more protests and breast-beating on the fringes of Capitol Hill? Better a well-thought-out plan to take the fight for D.C. self-determination to congressional districts and state capitals. And when Barack Obama comes calling for another cheap photo-op with young, smiling D.C. faces, just say no.