Wednesday, November 09, 2011


With all the stories competing for your attention today, what seems to have won the news cycle, at least in the world of politics? That damn story about the Obama administration's "Christmas tree tax" -- even though it's not a tax, it was proposed in 2008, and it was apparently under discussion (at least in one form) as early as 2004.

Really -- 2004? Yup. This is from a story about the White House Christmas tree in the December 9, 2004, edition of The Washington Post:

Artificial trees have been around for decades ... but the degree to which phony firs and specious spruces have become part of our lives is surprising.

And alarming to growers such as Ron Hudler, who raises Fraser firs in the mountains of northwestern North Carolina. He is also spokesman for the growers' trade group, the National Christmas Tree Association....

The last four years have seen a steady drop in the sales of real trees, from a reported 32 million trees in 2000 to fewer than 24 million last year.

... faced with the loss of market share to fancy artificial trees, the association is fighting back with a concerted public relations and marketing effort. Growers have agreed to donate 12 cents a tree to the campaign, which has included hiring a team of experts to expand sales.

(Emphasis added.)

So before the evil all-destroying socialist Barack Obama even joined the Illinois state legislature, these folks were going to add 12 cents to their cost for every tree, in order to sell consumers on real trees.

(Go read this newspaper article from 2007 -- it's almost certainly a product of those publicity efforts.)

Now, I don't know if the program discussed in that 2004 article had government involvement -- but what difference does it make? These growers wanted to fund a publicity campaign back then; they wanted to increase their costs in order to do more business.

Media Matters has discovered that the tree growers' association sought government involvement in 2008:

In February 2008, faced with declining sales, members of the National Christmas Tree Association created a task force to consider the merits of a checkoff program, which would allow the USDA to collect a fee from growers in order to fund research into marketing Christmas trees....

In April 2008, NCTA officials announced the formation of a task force to continue studying the merits of a checkoff program. As explained in the Fall 2008 edition of
Christmas Trees, a leading Christmas tree magazine, fee levels are established by industry -- not government -- and commodity growers frequently partner with the USDA for marketing and research checkoffs:
Examples of other agricultural commodity Checkoffs include the egg, beef, pork, mushroom, milk, and honey, etc. industries. We're all familiar with the Dairy industry's ad campaigns; "Milk Does a Body Good" and "Got Milk." "Pork: the Other White Meat," "Beef: It's What's for Dinner" and "The Incredible Edible Egg" are recognizable slogans developed and funded by Checkoff programs. These four 'big guns' collect between $45 and $91.2 million in assessments annually....

And, as Jake Tapper notes, this isn't intended to make your tree cost more:

The National Christmas Tree Association says the fee would fund a program "designed to benefit the industry and will be funded by the growers" and is "not expected to have any impact on the final price consumers pay for their Christmas tree."

But the 15-cent fee (inflation!) has been put on hold, because wingnuts never pass up an opportunity to lie to us so we hate government, liberals, and one another.


the bewilderness said...

I'm not sure a $1 fee would get them a slogan catchy enough to convince people to spend anywhere from $20 to $200 dollars for a dead tree that sheds needles on the carpet and gets tossed in the landfill after two weeks.
Still, you would have thought the corporate media would love promoting tree killers for Jesus.
How clever of them to turn it inside out and upside down.

Phil Freeman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
c u n d gulag said...

Christmas trees!
Christmas trees?

OMG, can you imagine the firestorm from AIPAC and Congress aimed at President Obama if there were a tax requested my US Minorah makers?

Betty Cracker said...

I saw a snippet of the odious John King's CNN program last night, and the even more odious Erick Erickson was on crowing about this very topic. King, though definitely a smug, insufferable weasel, was honest enough to call bullshit on this Xmas tree tax crap. In response, the smarmy, cretinous Erickson basically said, "So what if it's a lie; it works."