Calling the new Christmas tree fee a “ludicrous political misstep” by the Obama administration, and likening the president to the Grinch and a Scrooge, Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., said today he will soon offer an amendment to “repeal 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. “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 government has imposed a 15-cent fee on most fresh-cut Christmas trees while administration officials insisted that it is not a new tax, but a growers’ arrangement to boost tree sales.
The money goes to a marketing board being set up for the tree growers’ industry to boost sales and consumption. The fee hike was requested by the Christmas tree industry, which says the final price consumers pay for trees will not be affected.
“The program is designed to benefit the industry and will be funded by the growers at a rate of 15 cents per tree sold,” the National Christmas Tree Association said in a statement. “The program will be administered by an independent 12-member board of small business owners who grow and sell farm-grown Christmas trees and they will be responsible for developing and approving promotional and research efforts to benefit the entire industry. The program is not expected to have any impact on the final price consumers pay for their Christmas tree.”
An appalled DeMint wrote that no one believes that Christmas trees have a bad image that need, what he calls, “a taxpayer-subsidized improvement.”
”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?”
DeMint’s office says it is in the process of drafting an amendment on the fee but doesn’t know when it will reach the Senate floor. ”All I want for Christmas is a free market,” DeMint said.