Month: May 2021

Secret Tax Loophole That Makes Rich Even Richer

How do we prevent America from becoming an aristocracy, while also funding the programs that Americans desperately need? One way is to get rid of a tax loophole you’ve probably never heard of. It’s known as the “stepped-up basis” rule.

Here’s how the stepped-up-basis loophole now works. Take a man named Jeff. At his death, Jeff owns $30 million-worth of stocks he originally bought for a total of $10 million. Under existing law, neither Jeff nor his heirs would owe federal tax on the $20 million of gains because they’re automatically “stepped up” to their value when he dies — $30 million.

Under Biden’s proposal, Jeff’s $20 million of gains would be taxed. And don’t worry: Biden’s proposal doesn’t touch tax-favored retirement accounts, such as 401-Ks, and it only applies to the very richest Americans.

As it is now, the stepped-up basis loophole enables the super-rich, like Jeff, to avoid paying more than $40 billion in taxes each year. It has allowed them to skip taxes on the increased values of mansions and artworks as well as shares of stock.

In fact, it’s one of the chief means by which dynastic wealth has grown and been passed from generation to generation, enabling subsequent generations to live off that growing wealth and never pay a dime of taxes on it.

Unless the stepped-up basis loophole is closed, we will soon have a large class of hugely rich people who have never worked a day in their lives.

Over the next decades, rich baby boomers will pass on an estimated $58 trillion of wealth to their millennial children — the largest intergenerational transfer of wealth in history.

Closing this giant tax loophole for the super-rich is how Biden intends to fund part of his American Families Plan, which would provide every child with 2 years of pre-school and every student with 2 years of free community college, as well as provide paid family and medical leave to every worker.

Close this stepped-up basis loophole, and we help finance the programs the vast majority of Americans desperately need and deserve. We also end the explosion of dynastic wealth. It should be a no-brainer.

Austerity’s Hidden Purpose

Even if everyone agreed that printing another trillion dollars to finance a basic income for the poor would boost neither inflation nor interest rates, the rich and powerful would still oppose it. After all, their most important interest is not to conserve economic potential, but to preserve the power of the few to compel the many.

Back in the 1830s, Thomas Peel decided to migrate from England to Swan River in Western Australia. A man of means, Peel took along, besides his family, “300 persons of the working class, men, women, and children,” as well as “means of subsistence and production to the amount of £50,000.” But soon after arrival, Peel’s plans were in ruins.

The cause was not disease, disaster, or bad soil. Peel’s labor force abandoned him, got themselves plots of land in the surrounding wilderness, and went into “business” for themselves. Although Peel had brought labor, money, and physical capital with him, the workers’ access to alternatives meant that he could not bring capitalism.

Karl Marx recounted Peel’s story in Capital, Volume I to make the point that “capital is not a thing, but a social relation between persons.” The parable remains useful today in illuminating not only the difference between money and capital, but also why austerity, despite its illogicality, keeps coming back.

For now, austerity is out of fashion. With governments spending like there’s no tomorrow – or, rather, to ensure that there is a tomorrow – fiscal spending cuts to rein in public debt do not rank high among political priorities. US President Joe Biden’s unexpectedly large – and popular – stimulus and investment program has pushed austerity further down the agenda. But, like mass tourism and large wedding parties, austerity is lingering in the shadows, ready for a comeback, egged on by ubiquitous chatter about impending hyperinflation and crippling bond yields unless governments re-embrace it.

There is little doubt that austerity is based on faulty thinking, leading to self-defeating policy. The fallacy lies in the failure to recognize that, unlike a person, family, or company, government cannot bank on its income being independent of its spending. If you and I choose to save money that we could have spent on new shoes, we will keep that money. But this way of saving is not open to the government. If it cuts spending during periods of low or falling private spending, then the sum of private and government spending will decline faster.

This sum is national income. So, for governments pursuing austerity, spending cuts mean lower national income and fewer taxes. Unlike a household or a business, if the government cuts its spending during tough times, it is cutting its revenues, too.

But if austerity is such a bad idea, sapping our economies of energy, why is it so popular among the powerful? One explanation is that while they recognize that state spending on the impecunious masses is an excellent insurance policy against recessions as well as against threats to their property, they are loath to pay the premium (taxes). This is probably true – nothing unites oligarchs more than hostility to taxes – but it does not explain staunch opposition to the idea of spending central-bank money on the poor.

If you asked economists whose theories align with the interests of the wealthiest 0.1% why they oppose monetary financing of redistributive policies that benefit the poor, their answer would hinge on inflation fears. The more sophisticated would go a little further: such largesse would eventually hurt its intended beneficiaries because interest rates would soar. Immediately, the government, facing higher debt repayments, would be forced to cut its expenditures. An almighty recession would then ensue, hitting the poor first and foremost.

This is not the place for yet another rendition of that debate. But suppose for a moment, and for argument’s sake, that everyone agreed that printing another trillion dollars to finance a basic income for the poor would boost neither inflation nor interest rates. The rich and powerful would still oppose it, owing to the debilitating fear that they would end up like Peel in Australia: monied but bereft of the power to compel the less monied.

We are already seeing evidence of this. In the United States, employers are reporting that they cannot find workers as pandemic lockdown rules are lifted. What they really mean is that they cannot find workers who will work for the pittance on offer. The Biden administration’s extension of a $300 weekly supplementary payment to the unemployed has meant that the combined benefits workers receive are more than twice the federal minimum wage – which Congress refused to lift. In short, employers are experiencing something akin to what happened to Peel soon after he arrived in Swan River.

If I am right, Biden is now facing an impossible task. Because of the way financial markets decoupled after 2008 from actual capitalist production, every level of fiscal stimulus that he chooses will be both too little and too much. It will be too little because it will fail to generate good jobs in sufficient numbers. And it will be too much, because, given many corporations’ low profitability and high debt, even the slightest increase in interest rates will cause a cascade of corporate bankruptcies and financial-market tantrums.

The only way to overcome this conundrum, and to rebalance both the financial markets and the real economy, is to lift working-class Americans’ incomes substantially and write off much of the debt – for example, student loans – that keeps them bogged down. But, because this would empower the majority and raise the specter of Peel’s fate, the rich and powerful will prefer a return to good old austerity. After all, their most important interest is not to conserve economic potential. It is to preserve the power of the few to compel the many.

Policing Changes When States And Cities Take The Lead

In his first address to a joint session of Congress, President Biden spoke forcefully about the need to fight police violence and systemic racism in policing. His call to pass legislation was welcome, but a top-down approach led by the federal government is far from enough to solve this problem.

We need a complementary bottom-up effort to reimagine public safety in this country.

In recent weeks, the state legislature repealed the state’s odious, 47-year-old Police Bill of Rights. That policy was essentially a get-out-of-jail-free card for abusive officers; it strictly limited the conditions under which officers could be held accountable for harming people and the ways in which they could be disciplined. The state also limited no-knock warrants of the kind that led to the death of Breonna Taylor.

The fact that these steps took place only by overriding the veto of Gov. Larry Hogan is disgraceful. Fortunately, a responsible legislature took the necessary action to address police violence and make Marylanders safer. Other states and localities can and should do the same.

I look at Ithaca, N.Y., a college town where a young Black mayor is leading a transformation of public safety. Mayor Svante Myrick and the city council just approved a plan to replace Ithaca’s traditional police force with a Department of Community Solutions and Public Safety. That department will include both armed officers and unarmed social workers and will be led by a civilian supervisor.

Instead of deploying an armed response to every emergency, Ithaca will be able to send unarmed personnel to de-escalate crises where weapons would only make matters worse: crises of mental health, or substance abuse, or homelessness. The new department will work to build trust with communities of color, homeless residents, LGBTQ residents and residents with disabilities. Lives will be saved.

Here in Maryland, Baltimore should soon have the opportunity to retake control of its police department from the state. This can pave the way for the city – under the leadership of another great young mayor, Brandon Scott — to seize the chance to reimagine its own approach to policing, which has a tragic history.

Baltimore also happens to be one of the 25 metro areas in the United States in which more than half of Black Americans live. As we think of a bottom-up approach to changing public safety, think of this: if we just start with those 25 metro areas, we can make huge strides in saving the lives of Black people in our country.

This is a big goal, but it is one we are empowered to reach. We don’t have to wait for the federal government to act. State, county and city lawmakers are more accessible to us and are charged with being responsive to us.

Now is the time to make our voices heard, to train eyes and ears on how police officers are behaving in our communities and make our case for change.

If there are police officers in schools, what are they doing there? Are there unarmed peacekeepers available to respond to non-criminal emergencies in the community? Are there outdated laws in place that criminalize minor offenses like loitering and littering? As community activists, we have both the power and the responsibility to get answers and demand change, with courage and with love.

Right after Derek Chauvin’s conviction for George Floyd’s murder, a journalist asked me if things would really be different now or if we would still have to suffer through violence at the hands of police. My answer was simple: both. We are a long way from our ideal of equal justice under law for all Americans.

But there is more energy, more will to make changes in public safety now than at any time in memory. It is palpable and real. We can be proud of the progress Maryland is making and we can dedicate ourselves to making more. Let’s start now.

Climate Anxiety Makes Good Sense

Even as we begin to emerge from the stress of the pandemic year, mental-health professionals are noting a steady uptick in a different form of anxiety—the worry over climate change and the future that it will bring.

The latest survey research from Yale and George Mason universities shows about forty per cent of Americans feeling “disgusted” or “helpless” about global warming; a poll from the American Psychiatric Association last autumn found that fifty-five per cent of respondents were concerned about the effects of climate change on their own mental health. The effects seem particularly harsh on new mothers, and, indeed, a fear of adding to the climate problem and of the disintegration it might cause seems to be deterring large numbers of young people from having kids of their own. Understandably, the fear of a wrecked future increases as you descend the age scale: a March survey of Gen-Z Americans aged between fourteen and twenty-four found that eighty-three per cent are concerned about the health of the planet (although nearly half said that they have been feeling a little better since Biden took office).

Perhaps there are ways in which this fear is a luxury—Sarah Jaquette Ray, who literally wrote the book on climate anxiety, noted recently that it is an “overwhelmingly white” phenomenon. Not because people of color care less about the climate crisis (in fact, they care more), but because they’ve faced other existential crises. “The prospect of an unlivable future has always shaped the emotional terrain for Black and brown people, whether that terrain is racism or climate change,” Ray wrote. “Exhaustion, anger, hope—the effects of oppression and resistance are not unique to this climate moment. What is unique is that people who had been insulated from oppression are now waking up to the prospect of their own unlivable future.” Eric Holthaus, in his always interesting Substack newsletter on climate, echoed some of these thoughts, after describing his own anxiety as so crippling that, during attacks that lasted weeks, he’d “been unable to write, unable to interact with friends, unable to function normally.” But, he said, since those “who have already been marginalized by centuries of oppression will be hurt the worst… our job, as the climate anxious, is to repair that oppression, repair that marginalization, to make sure you’re not offloading your anxiety onto someone else in ways that are causing more harm.”

That’s fair enough—action has always seemed the best salve to me. (And for those for whom it is not enough, the Climate Psychology Alliance North America has published a directory of “climate-informed therapists.”) But I think there’s another reason that climate change can be so uniquely anxiety-producing: we’re not used to dealing with fights that we don’t know we can win. Martin Luther King, Jr.,’s statement, quoting the abolitionist Theodore Parker, that “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice” was comforting in a civil-rights fight that required—and requires—enormous courage: they meant, I think, ‘this may take a while but we’re going to win.’ But a different kind of courage is needed for the climate battle, because the arc of the physical universe is short and it bends toward heat. If we don’t win soon, we will never win, because the Earth is rushing toward irrevocable tipping points. We’ve already passed some—there’s no plan afoot to refreeze the Arctic. And clearly things will get much worse before they (possibly) start to stabilize; we’ve raised the temperature a degree Celsius already, and the most optimistic thinkers on the planet reckon that we might just be able to top out at 1.5 degrees.

All of which is to say that we are right to be anxious. There are profound reasons to hope that we’re about to make serious progress: the sudden arrival of cheap renewable energy; the shifting zeitgeist. (As is often the case, Rebecca Solnit sums them up with particular power.) Even if we catch some breaks from physics, though, it’s going to be a tough few decades. And what will make it toughest may be the (very American) assumption that we have to endure the anxiety by ourselves, in our own heads. I’ve found the simple solidarity of movements at least as useful as the opportunities for action that they provide; just knowing that lots of other people are at work on the same problem is a solace, and a goad to keep working. It’s one reason that I’m glad that vaccinations are proceeding apace. It’ll be strategically useful to be back in the streets, but it will also be psychologically useful: we are shoulder to shoulder on Zoom, but it’s not quite the same.

Passing the Mic

Maxine Bédat is the director of the New Standard Institute (N.S.I.), an N.G.O. working to reform the fashion industry. Her new book, Unraveled, which will be published next month, follows a pair of blue jeans through its planetary life cycle, illuminating the environmental and human toll along the way. (Our conversation has been edited.)

What can you learn about how our world is organized by following a pair of jeans through its travels to your closet?

By following a pair of jeans, we uncover how the world is woven together and coming apart at the seams. As cotton makes its way to the nearest port and then is shipped to China, which exports about thirty-seven per cent of the world’s textiles, we can trace the laws that created our globalized world, which brought access to cheaper goods and somewhat improved livelihoods for workers outside the West, but with enormous unintended costs. So today our jeans are produced with the help of the cheapest and dirtiest nonrenewable energy sources, mainly coal. For this reason, clothing contributes from four to eight per cent of total global carbon emissions, more than France and Germany combined, and is on track to take up more than twenty-five per cent of the world’s global carbon budget.

Finally, by exploring the story of our jeans, we find ourselves almost exactly where we started. Just a few short miles from Osu Castle, in Ghana, from where people were put on slave ships to pick cotton in the American South, is Kantamanto Market, where many of the things that wealthy countries donate go in search of a second home. They very often end up as trash, in landfills. When I was there, an accidental fire broke out in a landfill that was at capacity in half the time projected, in part because of the dumping of all of our clothes.

Clearly our own individual decisions won’t aggregate fast enough or in large enough quantities to change the way this process works—but how have you come to think differently about your own wardrobe?

I used to be a purely emotional shopper, the kind who took to retail therapy when I was having a bad day or feeling insecure in a sea of influencers looking cute. If I was having a good day? I would celebrate with a new pair of shoes. In between meetings, I would seek to “treat myself” by stopping into retail stores, and, under the pressure of a sales associate, I would often walk out with clothes I didn’t even like at the time.

It’s a really stressful way to live, accumulating all that stuff. After this journey, I have definitely changed my relationship to my own wardrobe. I took guidance from research on habit formation and removed shopping cues from my daily routine. Goodbye, fashion influencers on my Instagram feed. I also did clean my closet, but not for altruistic reasons, as I know it means those pieces will head to the landfill or incinerator sooner rather than later. But I did it to be able to see the things I actually did like. Now, when I do make a purchase, I consider who owns and manages the company and whether they are people I want to support.

And what should we be thinking about in terms of laws that might actually make wholesale change?

I still believe in markets. But unfettered capitalism, the kind we have now, has to become a thing of the past, and quickly. We need some basic guardrails in which markets can exist, like insuring that all wages are living wages. If we look back at history, we see that the very idea of a corporation was actually created for projects that would benefit the common good—for things like bridges and hospitals. It is the people who give government power for these companies to exist, and we have the power to insure that business aligns for the benefit of the people.

Climate School

According to the Mongabay Web site, Midwestern farmers are beginning to experiment with planting rows of soybeans and corn between shrubs, such as hazelnuts—adding a high-value crop to their fields, while also sequestering carbon.

The students who led the campaign to persuade the University of Michigan to divest from fossil fuels have offered tips for others to follow. Meanwhile, a new Oxford study quantifies the monetary value of the climate battle: investors are demanding four times the return on coal investments as on renewable energy.

The German high court ruled that the government must do more to cut greenhouse-gas emissions. The case was filed by young people, and the judges’ found that their“fundamental rights to a human future” were at risk.

A rapidly deepening western drought has the San Joaquin Valley in its grip—the Los Angeles Times reports that years of drought have some people “openly questioning the future of farming” in that “vast and fertile” region. On large farms, in the past decade, there has been drilling “to depths of more than 1,000 feet to sustain thirsty citrus orchards and almond and pistachio groves that had drawn hedge funds and big corporations into the business.”

Three venerable climate scientists have published a useful critique of the idea of “net-zero” emissions, pointing out that such scenarios rely on carbon-removal technology that doesn’t yet exist—and may never exist—at the necessary scale. They write, “The problems come when it is assumed that these can be deployed at vast scale. This effectively serves as a blank cheque for the continued burning of fossil fuels and the acceleration of habitat destruction.”

ProPublica reports that researchers have found some major accounting flaws in a California plan that gives landowners “carbon credits,” which they can sell to polluters, such as oil companies, in return for not cutting down forests on their land. As a result, there may be between twenty and thirty-nine million “ghost credits” on the market “that didn’t preserve additional carbon in forests but did allow polluters to emit far more CO2.”


Air pollution disproportionately affects people of color in the United States, a new study published in Science Advances confirms once again. “Nearly all major emission categories—consistently across states, urban and rural areas, income levels, and exposure levels—contribute to the systemic PM2.5 exposure disparity experienced by people of color,” the authors wrote.

Banks occasionally brag that they are reducing their use of energy in offices, or telling staff to fly less often. Bloomberg reports on a new study by the N.G.O. C.D.P. (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project) that makes clear what a hollow boast that is: emissions from the loans they give to companies account for seven hundred times more emissions than their operations.

Epicurious, the Condé Nast recipe archive site, announced that it would not post new recipes using beef, because of the climate implications of raising livestock. The site pointed to research from the World Resources Institute showing that raising cows produces a lot more greenhouse-gas emissions than does rearing pigs or poultry; Eleven Madison Park, the Michelin three-star restaurant in Manhattan, explained that it will eschew meat entirely, on the ground that it was “becoming ever clearer that the current food system is simply not sustainable.” Meanwhile, activists at the group Soil4Climate published their own collection of recent research, “Hope Below Our Feet,” arguing that, if we dramatically change the way we raise cattle, the effect of their grazing on the soil would make it more able to soak up carbon. Such schemes aren’t yet part of the Biden Administration’s plan for a climate-friendlier agriculture, which does encourage carbon-sequestration practices, but the Wall Street Journal reports that the White House is finding at least a few allies in farm country.

The veteran climate journalist Jeff Biggers reminds us that coal companies continue to get the permits they need for mountaintop-removal coal mining in Appalachia. The practice has declined, but, as Biggers notes, “the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection celebrated Earth Day by rubber-stamping a new strip-mining permit for an out-of-state coal company, slated to destroy 1,085 acres of forested ridges and wreak havoc for neighboring communities for the next eight years.” The Ohio Valley ReSource is producing an important podcast, Welcome to AppalachAmerica, about the region’s future.

Hawaii became the first state to declare an official climate emergency. Under the resolution, it commits to “statewide action that is rooted in equity, self-determination, culture, tradition, and the belief that people locally and around the world have the right to clean, healthy, and adequate air, water, land, food, education, and shelter.”

The Canadian government ruled last week that the people building a tar-sands pipeline to the coast of British Columbia need not reveal the names of the insurance companies underwriting the project. Since the people building the tar-sands pipeline are, in fact, the Canadian government, which purchased the project for 4.5 billion Canadian dollars, in 2018, it’s a perverse ruling, but one that illustrates the power of activists who target insurance companies in an attempt to slow down fossil-fuel expansion.

Scary new numbers indicate that the Amazon rain forest is now releasing more carbon than it stores. On Thursday, researchers reported in the journal Nature Climate Change that, between 2010 and 2019, Brazil’s Amazon basin released 16.6 billion tons of CO2, but drew down less than fourteen billion tons.

Warming Up

A new documentary short tells the story of one of the more remarkable episodes in American environmental history: in 1979, Mark Dubois chained himself to a rock in the Stanislaus River Canyon, in California, so that he would drown if the Army Corps of Engineers kept filling the reservoir behind a newly completed dam.

The Republican Rebrand, Exposed

The Republican Party is trying to rebrand itself as the party of the working class. Rubbish. Republicans can spout off all the catchy slogans about blue jeans and beer they want, but actions speak louder than words. But let’s look at what they’re actually doing.

Did they vote for the American Rescue Plan? No. Not a single Republican in Congress voted for stimulus checks and extra unemployment benefits needed by millions of American workers.

So what have they voted for? Well, every single one of them voted for Trump’s 2017 tax cut for the wealthy and corporations, of which 83 percent of the benefits go to the richest 1 percent over a decade.

They claimed corporations would use the savings from the tax cut to invest in their workers. In reality, corporations used their tax savings to buy back shares of their own stock in order to boost share values. And some corporations then fired large portions of their workforce. Not very pro-worker, if you ask me.

Have they voted for any taxes on the wealthy? No. Quite the opposite. Republicans refuse to tax the rich. They’ve even been trying to get rid of the estate tax, which only applies to estates worth at least $11.7 million for individuals and $23.4 million for married couples. Working class my foot.

Have they backed a bill to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, which a majority of Americans favor? No. Republicans refuse to raise the minimum wage even though it would give 32 million workers a raise. That’s about a fifth of the entire U.S. workforce.

Do they support unions, which empower workers to get better pay and benefits? No again. To the contrary: Republicans have enacted right-to-work laws in 28 states, decimating unions’ bargaining power and enabling businesses to exploit their workers.

And when it comes to strengthening labor laws, only five out of 211 Republicans voted for the PRO Act in the House—the toughest labor law legislation in a generation.

How about the historic union drive at the Bessemer, Alabama, Amazon warehouse, which Joe Biden and almost all Democrats have strongly backed? Just one Republican spoke out in support. All others have been dead silent.

What about backing regulations that keep workers safe? Nope. In fact, they didn’t bat an eye when Trump rolled back child labor protections, undid worker safeguards from exposure to cancerous radiation, and gutted measures that shield workers from wage theft.

Do they support overtime? No. They allowed Trump to eliminate overtime for eight million workers, and continue to repeat the corporate lie about “job-killing regulations.”

What about expanding access to health care to all working people? Not a chance. Republicans at the state level have blocked Medicaid expansion and enacted Medicaid work requirements, while Republicans in Congress have tried for years to repeal the entirety of the Affordable Care Act. Had they succeeded, they would have stripped health care away from more than 20 million working Americans.

So don’t fall for the Republican Party’s “working class” rebrand. It’s a cruel hoax. The GOP doesn’t give a fig about working people. It is, and always will be, the party of big business and billionaires.

D.C. Statehood A Voting Rights And Racial Justice Issue

Washington, D.C., has a higher percentage of Black residents than any state in the country, and they have no voting representation in Congress.

This is systemic racism in action.

It is long past time to give Washington’s 712,000 residents the representation they deserve by making D.C. our 51st state.

It is shameful that people who live in the nation’s capital have no say in Congress. And it is unacceptable that local laws and budgets passed by D.C. elected officials can be overturned by members of Congress who decide to meddle in local decision-making.

That explains why the District of Columbia’s license plates include the slogan, “End taxation without representation,” a rallying cry by American colonists against the tyranny of British rule.

The disenfranchisement of hundreds of thousands of D.C. residents is fundamentally un- American and there is no good reason to allow it to con- tinue. There are bogus reasons to oppose statehood and some

Republicans in Congress have been trotting them out now that legislation to admit Washington, D.C., as a state is moving forward in Congress.

Some claim that Washington is too small to be a state. But D.C. has more residents than either Vermont or Wyoming. There are currently six states whose population is less than 1 million. D.C. pays more federal taxes than 21 states — and more federal taxes per person than any state.

Some make the false claim that it would require a constitutional amendment to make Washington, D.C., a state. Not true. The U.S. Constitution clearly gives Congress the authority to admit new states.

That’s how every one of the 37 states that were not initially part of the United States have joined the country. The original District of Columbia was created out of land from Maryland and Virginia. In 1846, a good chunk of D.C. was returned to Virginia. No constitutional amendment was required then, and none is required now to admit Washing- ton, D.C., as a new state.

Some objections are so idiotic, frankly, that they must be a cover for pure partisanship or worse.

In March, a Heritage Foundation legal fellow testifying before Congress said D.C. residents shouldn’t get representation in Congress because they can already influence congressional debates by placing yard signs where members of Congress might see them on their way to work.

One Republican congressman said — wrongly — that D.C. would be the only state without a car dealership. Another said that D.C. doesn’t have enough mining, agriculture or manufacturing. U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell said the plan to make D.C. a state was evidence of “full bore socialism on the march.”

At least some Republicans are honest about their real reason for opposing statehood: They just don’t want to let D.C. voters elect Democratic officials who will support progressive policies supported by the majority of the American people.

But that is not a principled position. None of the objections to D.C. statehood hold water, especially when weighed against the basic injustice of disenfranchising hundreds of thousands of people.

Washingtonians have fought in every U.S. war. About 30,000 D.C. residents are veterans. But D.C.’s mayor does not even have the ability that governors have to mobilize its own National Guard — a fact that proved to be deadly during the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol insurrection.

The bottom line in this: How can we hold ourselves out as a model of democracy when we are the only democratic country in the world that denies representation and self-governance to the people who live in its capital? We can’t.

As the Biden administration recognized in announcing its support for D.C. statehood, it is long past time to correct this injustice. The U.S. House of Representatives voted on April 22 to admit Washington, D.C., as a state. Senate leaders must not allow filibuster rules or Republican resistance to prevent Congress from righting this wrong.