WE HADN'T PLANNED on returning so soon to the subject of D.C. Council member John A. Wilson's bill to turn city hall into a collection agent for political parties through the tax system -- but as his letter to the editor today notes, it turns out he's dead serious about this awful idea. The language of the bill did undergo some quick surgery on Monday to remove several grotesque provisions that Mr. Wilson said were inadvertently left in. But by any measure it's still the D.C. Partisan Tin Cup Act of 1985 -- and it doesn't deserve five more minutes of the council's time.
Mr. Wilson now says in his letter that allowing each taxpayer to designate a dollar of his or her tax refund to a political party is meant to "encourage citizens to participate in the political process." If that's the idea, why not let the trash crews run around collecting donations for every candidate who gets on any ballot here? Police officers, too, could ask people on the street if they would like to cough up cash for candidates. If Mr. Wilson's idea really is to "make it easier for taxpayers to participate in this valuable process," why not permit D.C. government payroll checkoffs for political parties, buttons, banners and maybe discount tickets for $100-a-plate campaign dinners?
Imagine what fun the rest of the country -- particularly those Republicans who have cited the huge Democratic majority here as an excuse to deny the District full congressional representation -- would have if Mr. Wilson's bill were enacted.
You like to believe, too, that any taxpayer in the District who wants to pitch in for a party is fully capable of finding out where to send the money. As for Mr. Wilson's bill -- or any other version that has city hall processing tax refunds for distribution to political parties -- the place to send it is oblivion.