Taxing Christmas trees to … promote Christmas trees

posted at 9:15 am on November 9, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

This … is not satire:

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.

Guess what the money will fund?  If you guessed “bureaucracy,” you get a sugar plum or two:

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.

So what will the Ministry Of Celebratory Trees do?  They will “improve the image and marketing of Christmas trees.”  Pardon me if I’m a little confused, but with retailers already decorating for Christmas despite the fact that Thanksgiving has not yet arrived, what can the Tree Bureau do to promote Christmas more?  Start converting hathens to Catholicism?  Speaking of which, does this promotion effort qualify as a faith-based initiative?  I await with bated breath the ACLU’s view of the “Christmas Tree Promotion Board.”

The board will obviously push real trees as an alternative to the growing popularity of artificial trees.  This is a great example of unnecessary and damaging government distortion of markets.  People have rational reasons to prefer the artificial tree.  With proper care, they are more economical than live trees, and those with allergies don’t have to worry about dealing with the health issues real trees provoke.  The industry creates manufacturing jobs, although those are probably overseas, thanks to our tax code and domestic manufacturing burdens.  Most importantly, artificial trees eliminate the fire hazard that a “live” (actually very dead) tree presents in a house, especially when hung with electric lights.  Does the Obama administration take a pro-house fire position now?

The government has no business in product promotion in the first place.  Only the Obama administration would think that a tax on Christmas trees makes a fine stocking gift in a holiday season where the jobless rate remains stuck at 9%, a level we have had for more than two years.  Someone needs to drop a lump of coal and a few sticks in Barack’s stocking this year.

Update: Via my friend Dustin Siggins, Media Matters is defending Obama by saying that this fee structure was requested by the industry, and that it was first considered under Bush.  To which I answer — so what?  Bush didn’t implement it, Obama did, and it’s a dumb idea regardless of whether the industry requested a Christmas Tree Promotion Board or not.  Government doesn’t belong in the advertising business for any private-sector product, and the last thing we need right now is another bureaucracy spending tax dollars.

Besides, why is the first defense of this administration that Bush first thought of doing what they do?  Didn’t this President run on the concept of change?

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Comment pages: 1 2

When did Congress, specifically the House of Representatives, cede their power to levy taxes to the executive branch. Article I, Section 7, Clause [1].

Taxing something to promote it is the lesser issue. What’s greater is the shift in power. And don’t tell me this isn’t raising revenue.

rbj on November 9, 2011 at 9:23 AM

Good point and one they at least thought about. In an artical I read on this over in Drudge; ‘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’. Yet they turn around and continue to call it a “Christmas Tree Tax“.

For a long time now I have wondered just how bad Obama’s narsissist pyschosis is. It does appear that he is at the point where he is not being given any task that are truely the responisbility of the president. If you look, there is no indication that he is doing any desk work. His morning briefings, if they occur at all, are very short. The rest of his day is more or less ceremonial face time, photo ops, news ops, or fundraisers, if he is not golfing, and he is usually done in time for an early dinner before evening fundrasier appearances for “remarks”. Take Tuesdays schedule; Fly to Philly and visit a preschool head start classroom for a photo op before making some remarks at the pre school. He flew home afterwards. That one trip probably cost as much as this “tax” will raise. Is this “tax”, as so called, to appease a psychotic narcissist since Congress will not give him a new tax?

That picture on Drudge seems to have captured Obama in his true light. My guess is the three year old just beat him in block stacking.

Franklyn on November 9, 2011 at 11:24 AM

Tax Qur’ans

Hening on November 9, 2011 at 11:26 AM

I think that singling out Christmas trees since they are a religious symbol is an illegal discriminatory tax.

oldernwiser on November 9, 2011 at 9:20 AM

It’s Obamanure’s jiyza against unbelievers. Belieive it.

Western_Civ on November 9, 2011 at 11:34 AM

I guess Obama considers this a sin tax…

PatriotRider on November 9, 2011 at 11:36 AM

Of course it was requested by the industry! Obama is the biggest crony capitalist of all.

Just like the FDA pays a guy to promote cheese (at $700K/yr) and another to discourage the eating of cheese. Your tax dollars at work.

PattyJ on November 9, 2011 at 11:51 AM

How is the new bureaucracy going to be funded after Christmas…?

Seven Percent Solution on November 9, 2011 at 11:53 AM

They had to chop down the conifer forest in order to save it.

andycanuck on November 9, 2011 at 12:01 PM

In 2011, is there any reason for a Federal Department of Agriculture?

cthulhu on November 9, 2011 at 12:01 PM

What surprises me is that Obama did not impose a $50 fee in order to save the trees!

Freddy on November 9, 2011 at 12:11 PM

I bet tree farmers weren’t expecting union thugs to be coming around this year.

“That’s a pretty nice little tree farm you got going there. It be a shame if someone were to accidentally set fire to it.”

shick on November 9, 2011 at 12:11 PM

It will help the black farmers who weren’t able to farm Xmas trees because of, I don’t know why

Sonosam on November 9, 2011 at 12:24 PM

Anyone remember Obama promising not to raise taxes on anyone making less than $250,000? Those selling trees will not ‘eat’ this tax – it will be passed on to consumers; therefore, Obama is breaking his word (again). And this whole story should demonstrate how insulting, intrusive, and STUPID this administration….and government…truly is: The audacity to actually think that Christmas trees need to be promoted to begin with but that it is up to the US Government to do so…by adding a TAX to Christmas trees! Obama has added $4 trillion to the deficit in 4 years. He said minutes ago that he will not wait on Congress but will begin cutting pork and waste from the budget on his own: 1) The Obama administration has not passed an official budget in 3 (THREE) Years. 2) His Stimulus Bill contained over 7,ooo (SEVEN THOUSAND) pieces of pork, to include such waste as paying to teach drunk Chinese prostitutes to drink more responsibily on duty. His family and there 100+ people group taking several jets, an army of security, 10 limos, renting out entire floors in the best hotels in foreign nations – perhaps he should start by cutting his own family’s deficit-spending before taxing Christmas trees?! Haven’t we paid enough for he and his family’s fiscally irresponsible behavior?!

easyt65 on November 9, 2011 at 12:38 PM

Looks like the NCTA has been trying to get this through for quite some time according to this article. (notice how we get the straight scoop from a foreign news service?)

It took an adminstration that was going to fight lobbying efforts (snicker, cough) to finally get their wish.

Anyone know how much NCTA is/has/will donate to Obamas’s reelection fund?

kurtzz3 on November 9, 2011 at 12:39 PM

Sarkozy: “He’s such a liar.”
Obama: “You’re upset? We have to deal with him everyday.”

——–

Netanyahu: “He (Obama) is such a liar.”
AMERICANS: “YOU’RE upset?! We have to deal with him everyday!”

easyt65 on November 9, 2011 at 12:41 PM

How is the new bureaucracy going to be funded after Christmas…?
Seven Percent Solution on November 9, 2011 at 11:53 AM

Via an upcoming 15% surtax on pints of green beer sold on St. Patrick’s Day. Green jobs, baby!

ya2daup on November 9, 2011 at 12:41 PM

Obama hates the children.

Schadenfreude on November 9, 2011 at 12:50 PM

kurtzz3 on November 9, 2011 at 12:39 PM

Thanks for that.

‘More than 1,000 people donated more than $900,000 for 2004 promotion and marketing programs.

‘By 2007, donations to the market expansion activities had dropped to about $400,000.

‘The erosion of funding resulted in fewer projects aimed at positively impacting consumer attitudes about Real Trees limiting the ability of the industry to affect the sales of Real Trees in the marketplace.

Sorry, I do not see this as a problem that needs government involvement. The entire 1996 law needs to be repealed.

rbj on November 9, 2011 at 12:54 PM

Shipman’s phone number is
202 720 4276
His lady answering the phone was polite.

Col.John Wm. Reed on November 9, 2011 at 1:15 PM

So, when they put up the tree at the Capitol, do they have to pay the tax on that tree?

And when I say “they have to pay the tax” of course I mean “we”.

juanito on November 9, 2011 at 1:22 PM

So now the Christmas tree growers hire Lobbyests? Who knew?

I wonder if they met with the Obama administration across the street from the White House in the coffee shop also. Or maybe they felt more at home amoungst the trees in the park across the street?

Unbelievable.

Susanboo on November 9, 2011 at 1:32 PM

yeah, it singles them out for promotion.

sesquipedalian on November 9, 2011 at 9:31 AM

No idiot, it singles out Christians for an additional tax simply for celebrating Christmas.

Trafalgar on November 9, 2011 at 1:55 PM

Bitter Christmas tree clingers…

Don L on November 9, 2011 at 1:56 PM

The government has no business in product promotion in the first place.


This!!!!
Damnit!

Random Numbers (Brian Epps) on November 9, 2011 at 2:04 PM

Small tax on christians, get used to the dhimmy status, islam is still free.

anikol on November 9, 2011 at 2:06 PM

Anyone know how much NCTA is/has/will donate to Obamas’s reelection fund?

kurtzz3 on November 9, 2011 at 12:39 PM

Sure, .15 for every tree sold

WhoU4 on November 9, 2011 at 2:13 PM

Folks, this is nothing new.
You have the Pork Checkoff Dollars & The Beek Checkoff Dollars.
I am forced to pay $1 per head when i sell my calves, cows, bulls.
I believe there was a case regarding mushroom producers where it was ruled their checkoff dollars were ruled unconstitonal or some such thing.
My checkoff dollars go to the NCLB which has been chosen to use them in promoting beef.
Problem is, NCLB uses that $$ to do other things.
Producers in organizations like RCALF & my organization, the ND Stockman’s Assc., have been trying to make their use of the $$ more transparent.
No such luck yet.

Badger40 on November 9, 2011 at 2:16 PM

Oops! Beek = Beef :)

Badger40 on November 9, 2011 at 2:16 PM

UPDATE:

This on Drudge just now
Obama Administration to Delay New 15-Cent Christmas Tree ‘Fee’

kurtzz3 on November 9, 2011 at 2:20 PM

Boy the White House phones must of rung off the wall. According to Jake Tapper the Obama Administration is DELAYING the tax!

fbcmusicman on November 9, 2011 at 2:21 PM

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commodity_checkoff_program

This explains the checkoff dollar programs.
Basically I am forced to pay it.
I have been given no choice.
If I refuse, there are penalties & I will be fined.

Badger40 on November 9, 2011 at 2:22 PM

Ever-green jobs program!

Scrappy on November 9, 2011 at 3:21 PM

You would think they’d have at least taxed the FAKE trees to raise the money to promote the real trees.

This White House clearly has no idea how supply and demand works.

hawksruleva on November 9, 2011 at 4:12 PM

Oops! Beek = Beef :)

Badger40 on November 9, 2011 at 2:16 PM

WRONG! Beek = Sausage (as do claws, hooves, snouts, feathers…)

Laura in Maryland on November 9, 2011 at 4:24 PM

WRONG! Beek = Sausage (as do claws, hooves, snouts, feathers…)

Laura in Maryland on November 9, 2011 at 4:24 PM

I thought those body parts were for hotdogs.

listens2glenn on November 9, 2011 at 4:41 PM

UPDATE:

This on Drudge just now
Obama Administration to Delay New 15-Cent Christmas Tree ‘Fee’

kurtzz3 on November 9, 2011 at 2:20 PM

THERE’S A ‘RUN’ ON CHRIST-MASS TREES.

GET YOUR’S NOW, BEFORE THE ‘NON-TAX’ IS LEVIED!

listens2glenn on November 9, 2011 at 4:44 PM

We finally got liberals to call Christmas trees Christmas trees.

If the tax makes them too expensive, I might be forced to buy a holiday tree, though, this year instead of the usual Christmas tree. I doubt they will be getting taxed, since, you know, they aren’t “Christmas trees.”

JellyToast on November 9, 2011 at 6:15 PM

I thought those body parts were for hotdogs.

listens2glenn on November 9, 2011 at 4:41 PM

AScrale.

katy the mean old lady on November 9, 2011 at 6:26 PM

Keyboard gone nuts.
Scrapple

katy the mean old lady on November 9, 2011 at 6:29 PM

Our Christmas tree is plastic. (got it at a garage sale for ten bucks several years ago).It’s reusable and I don’t have to pay tax on it. Insert picture of me sticking tongue out here.

crazedarmenian on November 9, 2011 at 6:42 PM

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”

First order of business: A fact-finding study of the effects of artificial Christmas tree sales vs real Christmas trees on the island of Maui. All members with significant others will be required to attend this during Christmas Week, 2011.

PatMac on November 9, 2011 at 8:27 PM

Comment pages: 1 2