The Christmas tree tax

Bowing to public outrage, the Obama administration reversed its proposed 15-cent tax on Christmas trees before I got a chance to comment on it. There’s still something to note about the controversy though. Even reversed, the administration doesn’t want its fingerprints on the tax:

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.”

To the extent that this is true at all, it is grossly misleading. The Obama Agriculture Department has issued a rule, published in the Federal Register, requiring a 15-cent per tree fee on all major Christmas tree sellers to fund a Christmas Tree Promotion Board. This is not some voluntary contribution by the industry, it is a government program. And it’s an idiotic one — who thinks that Christmas trees need to be promoted, anyway?

POSTSCRIPT: By the way, how does the executive branch have the authority to impose new taxes without the approval of Congress anyway?

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