The proposed15-cent fee on Christmas trees, roundly described as a Grinchey move by the Obama administration, has now been scrapped.
The fee, which was originally set to take effect earlier this month, was intended to fund an ad campaign to promote fresh-cut Christmas trees over their fake-tree alternatives. But within hours of the Department of Agriculture final rule being published in the Federal Register, cries of “bah humbug” inundated the internet, the airwaves and the House floor causing the Department of Agriculture to temporarily delay implementation of the fee.
Today that temporary stay was extended “indefinitely.”
“Due to recent events, the regulations are stayed in order to provide all interested persons, including the Christmas tree industry and the general public, an opportunity to become more familiar with the program,” the department wrote in today’s Federal Register.
According to the register, the rule is “stayed indefinitely” until the department can better “explain how a research and promotion program is a producer driven program to support American farmers.”
The National Christmas Tree Association strongly supported the fee, which it requested in 2009 and said “is designed to benefit the industry” similar to how the “Got Milk?” campaign benefits the dairy industry and the “Beef, it’s what’s for dinner” advertisements promote the livestock industry.
The association said the fee “is not expected to have any impact on the final price consumers pay for their Christmas tree.”
But conservatives, such as Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., wasted no time attacking the Obama Administration for imposing a “tax” on Christmas trees, a tax that DeMint said was “the single stupidest tax of all time.”
“The crony capitalists in the Obama Administration have gone too far this time,” DeMint wrote in a blog posted on his Senate website shortly after the fee was announced. “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.”