City Desk

GOPers Use Bags to ‘Bag the Bag Tax’

So you're a fiscally conservative D.C. resident. You now have to pay a nickel a pop for your grocery bags. You hate having to feed a bloated, overreaching local government $.05 or more every time you go shopping. And you would never consider one of those hippy-dippy NPR totes.

The D.C. Republican Committee understands your quandary! They've printed up several hundred reusable bags festooned with the local party logo and an admonition to "Bag The Bag Tax."

Good timing, this. LL learns about these Republican totes on the same day that the bag tax hit the front page of the conservative house organ, the Wall Street Journal, which took a rather dim view of the bag fee's execution.

This idea sprung from the fertile mind of D.C. GOP executive director Paul D. Craney; the bags are available to anyone who wants to give a $5 contribution to the organization. "We are trying to help D.C. residents not to pay a ridiculous tax," Craney says.

Of course, this particular form of protest has the perverse effect of aiding the protestees: The whole point of the bag tax, its advocates have long said, was to get people to stop using disposable bags. If the tax receipts dip to zero, that's the whole point.

Lead sponsor Tommy Wells, councilmember from Ward 6, says the GOP's bag is "not surprising."

"The Republican Party has a long tradition of not caring about the environment," he e-mails. "Either that, or they don’t recognize a business-friendly measure when they see one. Stores are already reporting customers are using half the number of throw-away bags they used to."

Says Craney, "Pollution is bad, but we think the tax is silly."

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  • Skipper

    How long before the Council comes up with loopholes for avoiding the Tommy Tax?

  • Jacob

    As I life long Democrat, I've seen no better advertisement for the GOP than the behavior of the DC Democratic Party. The District is a great example of how one party states just don't work, even if it is your party in charge.

  • Geeen

    You know, there are plenty of people who are just flat-out ignoring the tax altogether.

    This was a wasteful piece of legislation.

    Especially seeing that the bags littering the Anacostia are either coming from Tha PGC or are dry-cleaning bags.

  • Fred

    It was a GREAT piece of legislation.

    This has helped bring the issue of what is and is not biodegradable and what should be re-used as often as possible and what maybe should not be considered as acceptable to the forefront.

    People, there is a very limited amount of stuff we can bury in the ground!

    This was brilliant legislation.

  • Holly Jordan

    Agree with Fred.

    But also agree that the problem comes from all over and therefore the bag tax should be national. Ireland's "plastax" has reduced single use bag consumption by 90+%. Now thats effective legislation.

  • Dakota P

    Has anyone else noticed that the law called for 2.25 mm thick reusable bags if made from plastic, and that the free reusable plastic bags handed out by the city itself were much thinner (about 0.5 mm by my measurement) and a violation of the ordiance?

    Aren't the city and most stores (since most are giving out reusable bags that are too thin under the act as well) in violation and subject to the $100 day fine for distributing or selling the bags...

    Sounds funny but here is a link to the ordinance where you can see the definition of reusable bag.

  • Shopping in VA now

    Tommy Wells set up everyone really good... good move sir...
    -Don't use plastic bags because they are bad
    -Use plastic bags to pay for Anacostia cleanup

    How can't have it both ways...either the river is worth cleaning up and you need to commit money to it or not...bags are either a problem or they are not

    Watch as people stop using plastic bags...he probably then propose to move the tax over to bottles, cups, diapers, pets and more than one child ...oh wait that last one was Communist China's environmental policy... oh well either way excessive government is the same.

  • KCinDC

    Dakota, since the bags given out by the government are intended to be used by consumers (that is, brought to the store and filled with purchases), it's irrelevant whether they fit the thickness of "reusable carryout bags" or any of the other definitions in that section of the law, which deals with what sorts of bags can be supplied with a purchase without incurring the 5-cent fee. The merchant isn't supplying those bags, and the customer wouldn't be charged for them. You can bring in the thinnest, flimsiest bag you like, and you won't be charged a fee because it's your bag.

  • Ward7Res

    GOP is taxing people by 100 to get their $5 bags. Even a simple reusable bag is .99 or bringing your own stash of plastic Safeway, Wal-Mart bags are more economical than the moronic GOP idea. Plus it proves two of the unwritten goals of the bag bill: increase awareness of Anacostia River pollution and increase self-awareness of your role in the environment.

  • Fred

    People can gotcha me all over the place, "Shopping in Va Now." (How ridiculous that you are swapping one tax, a much higher one, for another, but...ENJOY!)

    The thing is, the bag tax was needed. I really don't care if it stays to the letter of its intention or not, because OVERALL it is a great thing. It raises people's awareness about how we overused plastic and then just toss it in the trash can. And it will, OVER TIME now, reduce the amount of plastic floating along our streets, rivers and getting stuck in our trees. Not to mention being buried needlessly in the ground. Other cities will enact this. It will have a snowball effect. The money that is generated will help clean up the Anacostia. Will it be enough? I don't know, and I don't care. This is where you can gotcha me.

    If you all keep coming up with tiny excuses about this, I can only say you are extremely trifling individuals.

  • SF

    Seriously, thanks GOP for helping people COMPLY with the law by bringing a reusable bag. The city wants you to avoid the fee. That's why they won't charge it to you if you don't take a plastic bag.

  • DCBob

    This sort of thing makes the GOP look bad on the environment, anti-business, and just plain stupid.

  • RobShaw

    How about a ban on guns? Oh.

  • RobShaw

    And how much paper did this legislation require anyway?

  • Tom

    I dont buy the argument Fred, they also charge for paper bags and thats environment friendly. Why did they just ban plastic bags???? And the damn river was still brown this morning!

  • Fred

    Paper bags do degrade, that is true, but they take a helluva toll on the environment to manufacture, so they are not so "good for the environment" either.

  • Jim

    I applaud the GOP on these stupid bags for the same reason I applaud D.C. for enacting the bag tax: It encourages people to switch from disposable plastic to reusable bags.

  • Rick Mangus

    I now do ALL of my shopping in Maryland and Virginia and this city can go screw itself along with you trendy morons who like drinking the 'Kool Aid' that other morons like Tommy Wells give you.

    'Fred' there is nothing ridiculous about people shopping in other states to avoid this tax, unlike people like you and other trendy sheep who accept everything without question.

  • Rick

    I think the legislation is awesome. My partner, whom I had previously purchased several reusable bags for at WholeFoods would never use them (He does all the grocery shopping). Once this tax hit, he started to use them because he didn't want to waste money. Whether it is for the environment or to save money, I think this is a great way to force people to stop being wasteful.

  • Rick Mangus

    'Rick' when people are FORCED as you say to do something, people usually find a way around it, which is what is happening here with this TAX.

  • Mrs. D

    Econ 101, people. It's called an externality. Cheap plastic bags are wasteful of much needed and costly natural resources and harmful to the environment, and the full costs of their manufacture and use is not accurately reflected in their cost. That IS the point of government, to correct market imperfections. Jeez, for a bunch of people who claim to understand "markets," the GOP doesn't seem to get it.

  • Grace

    I love the bag tax. I always "tried" to use reusable bags, but now I'm doing so 100% of the time.

    And as someone who lives near the Anacostia and has actually waded in it picking up trash -- I say styrofoam should be next.

    And, btw shopping in VA/MD in protest is silly. Time+food tax > using reusable bags

  • Rick Mangus

    'Mrs D' what natural resources are you talking about?


  • Fred

    "Rick" "Mangus"

    Can't you figure it out?


    End quote.

  • Mrs. D

    Your ignorance is showing...plastic is a PETROLEUM product. Last I checked, that was a scarce and costly resource. And with many if not most of the plastic bags we use being manufactured in China, the costs are particularly poorly reflected, as China heavily subsidizes oil.

  • Rick Mangus

    Hey, 'Fred' and 'Mrs. D' NEWSFLASH! The majority of plastic bags are from recycled plastic bottles and the majority of plastic bags used in the US are not made in China but here in the US (Source: SPI), so who has made the ignorant statements here, get you facts straight before shooting your big mouth off!

    Also in the beginning of todays 'City Desk' there is a photo article called, "Flood Stage, What the River Gives Back: A Survey" It's funny I don't see any plastic bags in any of the photos.

  • Fred

    on January 27th, 2010
    4:04 pm

    <> <> said

    'Mrs D' what natural resources are you talking about?



    Then, on January 28th, 2010 7:04 pm

    ' "Rick" ' '"Mangus"' said


    %Rick% %Mangus% --If you know the answer, why ask the "question?"

    End quote.

  • DC resident

    What could be more embarrassing than being seen in public with a DC GOP anti-bag tax bag? Great idea, DCGOP!!

  • DC resident

    "Bag the Bag Tax"

    One reading of this slogan is that the DC GOP is in favor of a tax on double-bagging. Just saying.

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