You’re a Mean One, Mr. Obama

This morning, it looked like a 15-cent Christmas tree tax was coming! But according to ABC’s Jake Tapper, the Obama Administration will now delay what they dub a “fee.” The quick backtrack came after a Heritage blog post on the issue landed on the headline of the Drudge Report and generated widespread outrage.

Previously, President Obama’s Agriculture Department announced that it will impose the tax in order to create a new “Christmas Tree Promotion Board,” which will – obviously – promote real Christmas trees while simultaneously attempting to dissuade consumers from buying plastic trees. But is it really necessary? According to ABC News:

“American producers market an estimated 17 million fresh cut Christmas trees each season. But the real Grinch for them in[sic] the artificial holiday tree, for which sales have topped 17.4 million.”

So there’s a 400,000 difference in sales that top 17 million? It’s a statistical dead heat, why do we need to be taxed in order to close this gap? Especially around the holidays, when consumers already feel the pinch of tight budgets?

National Christmas Tree Association spokesman Rick Dungey told Talking Points Memo that “Growers have been working on this for three and a half years.” A release states the “program is designed to benefit the industry and will be funded by the growers at a rate of 15 cents per tree sold.”

The real problem here is that the natural Christmas tree industry has tried – and failed – to set up their own voluntary promotion fund multiple times, because most growers did not see the benefit. The solution was to lobby the Obama Administration to use the heavy hand of government to force the promotion fund.

Some growers want this tax, which they will pass on to the consumer, in order to fund a campaign aimed at helping them make more money? It’s classic Washington; using the levers of Big Government to wage a public relations war on your primary commercial opponent.

From The Heritage Foundation’s David Addington:

“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.”

Does anyone believe that taxing real Christmas trees will encourage people to run out and buy real Christmas trees?

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