You can’t make this stuff up!
– Crony Capitalism, Christmas Trees, and the Stupidest Tax of All Time(US Senator Jim De Mint, Nov. 9, 2011):
Mr. Grinch, Mr. Scrooge, meet Mr. Obama.
No, it’s not a joke. President Obama really is imposing a special new tax on Christmas trees.
And while the policy seems a ludicrous political misstep – and possibly an unconstitutional one at that – in truth, the Obama Christmas Tree Tax is much worse than that.
The $2 million the Obama Administration expects the tax to raise will not reduce the deficit or cover needed government services. Instead, it will serve as a marketing slush fund for the Christmas tree industry.
The money will set up a brand new government agency called (no, seriously) the Christmas Tree Promotion Board. The CTPB will use the $2 million to hire a staff – most likely the industry lobbyists who cooked up this scheme – and then run advertisements to “enhance the image of Christmas trees and the Christmas tree industry of the United States.”
Don’t the Christmas tree growers and retailers already do that? Yes. Isn’t marketing something that all companies should do with their profits, to grow their business and attract new customers? Yes.
And while we’re asking questions, does anyone in America – anyone? – believe that Christmas trees have a bad image that needs taxpayer-subsidized improvement?
So why should the government-funded Christmas Tree Promotion Board tax us to fund a marketing campaign? So the Christmas tree industry can pocket the $2 million they now won’t have to spend marketing their trees.
That’s it. That’s the whole purpose of the Obama Christmas Tree Tax: to take money from hard-working families celebrating Christmas and give it to clever lobbyists and businessmen running a crony-capitalist subsidy scam.
And while this policy will, by design, help one group of people, it will hurt others: businesses that sell artificial Christmas trees, people who work at your local stores that sell them, and, don’t forget, the consumers who are out 15 cents a tree.
Business groups using government connections to enrich themselves by hurting everyone else. Makes you just want to break into “O Holy Night,” doesn’t it?
Hopefully, the Crony Capitalists in the Obama Administration have gone too far this time, and public backlash will force Congress to shut down the Christmas Tree Promotion Board and repeal the single stupidest tax of all time. I will soon offer an amendment on the Senate floor to do just that.
All I want for Christmas is a free market.
– Obama Couldn’t Wait: His New Christmas Tree Tax (The Foundry, Nov. 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.