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Obama Couldn’t Wait: His New Christmas Tree Tax
David S. Addington
November 8, 2011


President Obama’s Agriculture Department today announced that it will impose a new 15-cent charge on all fresh Christmas trees—the Christmas Tree Tax—to support a new Federal program to improve the image and marketing of Christmas trees.

In the Federal Register of November 8, 2011, Acting Administrator of Agricultural Marketing David R. Shipman announced that the Secretary of Agriculture will appoint a Christmas Tree Promotion Board. The purpose of the Board is to run a “program of promotion, research, evaluation, and information designed to strengthen the Christmas tree industry’s position in the marketplace; maintain and expend existing markets for Christmas trees; and to carry out programs, plans, and projects designed to provide maximum benefits to the Christmas tree industry” (7 CFR 1214.46(n)). And the program of “information” is to include efforts to “enhance the image of Christmas trees and the Christmas tree industry in the United States” (7 CFR 1214.10).

To pay for the new Federal Christmas tree image improvement and marketing program, the Department of Agriculture imposed a 15-cent fee on all sales of fresh Christmas trees by sellers of more than 500 trees per year (7 CFR 1214.52). And, of course, the Christmas tree sellers are free to pass along the 15-cent Federal fee to consumers who buy their Christmas trees.

Acting Administrator Shipman had the temerity to say the 15-cent mandatory Christmas tree fee “is not a tax nor does it yield revenue for the Federal government” (76 CFR 69102). The Federal government mandates that the Christmas tree sellers pay the 15-cents per tree, whether they want to or not. The Federal government directs that the revenue generated by the 15-cent fee goes to the Board appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture to carry out the Christmas tree program established by the Secretary of Agriculture. Mr. President, that’s a new 15-cent tax to pay for a Federal program to improve the image and marketing of Christmas trees.

Nobody is saying President Obama doesn’t have authority to impose his new Christmas Tree Tax — his Administration cites the Commodity Promotion, Research and Information Act of 1996. Just because the Obama Administration has the legal power to impose its Christmas Tree Tax doesn’t mean it should do so.

The economy is barely growing and nine percent of the American people have no jobs. Is a new tax on Christmas trees the best President Obama can do?

And, by the way, the American Christmas tree has a great image that doesn’t need any help from the government.

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"And, by the way, the American Christmas tree has a great image that doesn’t need any help from the government."

This is incredible. What....???......Oh, hell, I give up.

3 White House Sidelines Christmas Tree 'Tax' on Wed Nov 09, 2011 6:36 pm

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White House Sidelines Christmas Tree 'Tax'
By Judson Berger

Published November 09, 2011
| FoxNews.com



AP
The White House has decided to sideline a proposed fee on Christmas trees, after the fee was ridiculed by critics as a tax on Christmas.

The 15-cent tax on Christmas trees was announced Tuesday in the Federal Register and was meant to pay for a new board tasked with promoting the Christmas tree industry. It was supported by Christmas tree growers, who wanted a stable source of revenue to fund a new marketing campaign.


A Tax on Christmas Trees?

Chris Stirewalt discusses Fannie May's fiscal situation with Utah Sen. Mike Lee (R) as well as a fee on Christmas trees?

But the change quickly drew complaints from Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., and others. Scalise described the fee as a "Grinch" move by the Obama administration and vowed to fight it.

White House spokesman Matt Lehrich told Fox News on Wednesday afternoon that the administration is putting a stop to the proposal.

"I can tell you unequivocally that the Obama administration is not taxing Christmas trees. What's being talked about here is an industry group deciding to impose fees on itself to fund a promotional campaign, similar to how the dairy producers have created the 'Got Milk?' campaign," he said. "That said, USDA is going to delay implementation and revisit this action."

The new program was set to go into effect Wednesday. According to the Agriculture Department announcement, the government would have imposed a 15-cent-per-tree charge on "producers and importers" of fresh Christmas trees, provided they sell or import more than 500 trees a year.

The program and fee were supported by some in the Christmas tree industry. The money was not meant to pay down the debt or fund any other program, but designed to go back into the new Christmas Tree Promotion Board.

The board, proposed earlier this year, is the culmination of a years-long effort by the fresh Christmas tree industry to promote itself, according to background information provided in the Federal Register. The industry has faced increasing competition from producers of artificial trees, but efforts to collect voluntary contributions for a fresh-tree marketing campaign have repeatedly run out of funding. So the government stepped in to mandate a fee to support the promotion board.

Heritage Foundation Vice President David Addington, who first reported on the rule on his blog Tuesday evening, said there were two problems with the new fee. First, he said, it's likely the 15-cent fee would be passed on to consumers. Second, he said it's inappropriate for the government to be putting its "thumb on the scale," helping out the fresh-tree sellers and not the artificial-tree sellers.

"If it's one thing I think the free market could handle, it's letting people decide what kind of tree they want to buy for Christmas," Addington told FoxNews.com.

But Agriculture Department spokesman Michael T. Jarvis had defended the program, saying it's along the lines of over 20 other promotional programs supported by the department, such as the "got milk" campaign.

"It's worked great for beef, pork, chicken, eggs," he added.

Jarvis also insisted the fee does not count as a tax, since the industry is effectively "assessing themselves."

"This one's not a tax," he said.

The industry itself further rejected the claim that the fee would be passed onto consumers. The National Christmas Tree Association said in a statement that the program "is not expected to have any impact on the final price consumers pay for their Christmas tree."

The group said most growers who weighed in on the proposal were in favor of it.

According to the Federal Register, the new board was supposed to launch a "program of promotion, research, evaluation, and information designed to strengthen the Christmas tree industry's position in the marketplace."

As part of that job, the board was charged with improving the image of both Christmas trees and the industry itself. After three years, an industry-wide referendum will be held to determine whether to renew the program.



Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2011/11/09/merry-christmas-agriculture-department-imposes-christmas-tree-tax/?intcmp=trending#ixzz1dFKuZbWF

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