'Grinch' move by Obama administration challenged
White House imposing 15-cent tax on Christmas trees
The Obama administration has slapped a tax on one of the most recognizable symbols of the Christmas season. The White House has imposed a new 15-cent tax on Christmas trees in order to pay for a new board tasked with promoting the Christmas tree industry. Representative Steve Scalise, R-La. Says he vows to fight what he called a "Grinch" move by the administration. "It is shocking that President Obama tried to sneak through this new tax on Christmas trees," Scalise said in a statement.
'Then he got an idea! An awful idea! THE GRINCH GOT A WONDERFUL, AWFUL IDEA!' From Dr. Seuss' 'The Grinch Who Stole Christmas.'
According to the Agriculture Department announcement, the government will impose the charge on "producers and importers" of fresh Christmas trees, on the provision they sell or import more than 500 trees a year.
While denounced by some, the news was welcomed by some in the Christmas tree industry. They point out that the money is not meant to pay down the debt or fund any other program, and that the tax is designed to go back into the new Christmas Tree Promotion Board.
The Christmas tree industry has faced increasing competition from producers of artificial trees. Efforts to collect voluntary contributions for a fresh-tree marketing campaign have constantly run out of funding. The government has since stepped in to mandate a fee to support the promotion board.
However - as Heritage Foundation Vice President David Addington declared on his blog -- there are two problems with the new fee.
It's highly probable that the 15-cent fee will be passed on to consumers. Secondly, Addington says 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 its 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.
Agriculture Department spokesman Michael T. Jarvis 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.
As part of that job, the board has been charged with improving the image of both Christmas trees and the industry itself. An industry-wide referendum will be held in three years to determine whether or not to renew the program.
© 2011, Catholic Online. Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Christmas trees, tax, Agriculture, industry
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