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DC City Councilman Calling for Higher Drink Taxes

Brent Mead
May 7, 2012

Yesterday, I am sure the sight of Philadelphia Phanatics occupying Nationals Park…again…made some locals want to hit the hard stuff.

Unfortunately, D.C. continues to ban Sunday sales at package stores, so those folks had to struggle through a 6-run ninth inning with nary a drop of liquid comfort. If baseball isn’t your thing, Washington City Paper compiled a list of 10 other reasons to support ending the blue law insanity.

The good news was that for a while it looked like District imbibers might finally be able to have the beverage of their choice, at home, on the day of their choice. Opening up Sunday sales carried the nice side benefit that it would increase revenue for the city government at a time when there are mounting concerns over possible budget cuts.

This posed a conundrum for Councilman Jim Graham (D-Ward 1);

A)     He could repeal onerous regulations, increase economic activity, and raise revenues for the District’s coffers. Or;

B)      He could raise taxes.

When you look at Councilman Graham’s history it should not be surprising he chose option b. Last year, he supported efforts to raise the sales tax rate for liquor stores. This year, short $3.2 million after opposing the Mayor’s proposal to extend bar hours, the Councilman decided on pushing an increase on the wholesalers excise tax rate.

Councilman Graham’s proposal manages to distill everything wrong with government thinking into one bad idea. Raising the wholesale liquor alcohol tax hurts consumers through higher prices, hurts the hospitality industry by driving customers to Virginia or Maryland (both of which would have lower tax rates), and hurts wait staff who will likely see their tips suffer.  

All is not lost. Instead of sitting at home, drinking away the sorrow of D.C.’s latest rejection of common-sense, free-market reform I would encourage you to join the facebook group End DC Blue Laws.  Like them, share them, and join the cause. As they say, it is time to end blue laws, not raise taxes.


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