November 9, 2011

Obama administration calls Christmas trees "Christmas trees"... and taxes them.

It sound amusingly Grinch-y, but let's be fair. The 15-cent charge is to support a program to "enhance the image of Christmas trees and the Christmas tree industry in the United States."

What makes it very funny to me is that just yesterday, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker was lambasted for calling a Christmas tree a "Christmas tree." Linking to my post about that, The Anchoress wisecracks:
See, this is where Governor Walker made his mistake: If you want to call ‘em Christmas Trees, you have to tax them, first. Then you’re allowed.
Now, I said I was going to be fair, so here goes, and this isn't intended to be funny at all. This is intended to focus on the constitutional principles about religion and government. In Wisconsin, we've got a tree in the state capitol, the government's own display. Calling that particular tree a "Christmas tree" adds something to what already is the appearance that the state is endorsing or favoring a holiday that originated with one set of religious groups, the Christians.

In the case of the Department of Agriculture's new Christmas Tree Promotion Board, the government is involving itself with a particular crop and using the name of the crop that is used by those who are in the business of growing that crop. That is, the Department of Agriculture is going about its usual business — which you are welcome to view as too intrusive — and not giving special hands-off treatment to this crop that happens to have an end-use in activities that have some connection to a particular religion.

UPDATE: The Department of Agriculture is delaying the new fee, and a White House spokesman is saying:
"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."

122 comments:

lyssalovelyredhead said...

As someone who knows how to "think like a lawyer" (because I am one), I completely see the Professor's rational here.

I also see it as one of the reasons that people hate lawyers.

Also, this completely shows another reason why government is just too big and too entangled in everything that we do.

- Lyssa

Shouting Thomas said...

If only the government could figure out a way to tax screwing...

Chuck66 said...

This is the smartest thing Governor Walker could do...call the capital Christmas tree a Christmas tree.

Geesh, I used to work for Best Buy and they ban the word Christmas. They carry it so far that you can't buy a gift card there that says "Merry Christmas" on it. Best Buy says that phrase is offensive.

JAL said...

Does this mean if the farmer sells them as "holiday trees" they wouldn' have to pay the tax? (Which Obama says isn't a tax, but like Sarkozy, we know *he's* a liar, too.)

that-xmas said...

No...that doesn't work as an argument. If you view Christmas trees as something used in a religious ceremony, then taxing them specifically is the government taking a hand in suppressing a religion. You wouldn't have a special "Passover Matzo Tax" or "Hajj Airplane surcharge" without causing all sorts of ruckus.

However, if you view Christmas trees as a something you just have in the winter, or even as a Pre-Christian, Northern European celebration of the winter solstice, then you're a-okay. After all, Christmas is just the name of a day on the calendar, like Michaelmas, Ascension, Boxing Day, or Yuletide.

Ann Althouse said...

"I also see it as one of the reasons that people hate lawyers."

Cool, neutral analysis of the distinctions that matter can make bloviating in the emotional, political way much less thrilling, and the emotional reaction to that deprivation of emotion is to serve up a different emotion: hate.

Another alternative is to love reason. But reason doesn't give politicos a sexy enough thrill.

gutless said...

"I also see it as one of the reasons that people hate lawyers.'

Revealed truth, Lyssa.

Jenny said...

Isn't advertising and promotion the job of trade associations? Why does the government need to be involved in collecting $$ to advertise a product? They'll be lucky to see any of that money used for the purpose intended.

You can't fix stupid.

ndspinelli said...

Some of the Christmas tree farms in Wi. hire ex-cons to spray paint the trees green in the summer. it's hot, dirty, work.

When I talk to folks in other states they are unaware their tree was probably painted in green in July and harvested in early November. I didn't know that until I moved here. A couple probation officers I knew would direct the ex-cons to some of the more reputable farms for a month or so of emmployment. Looks good on a resume..Certified Christmas Tree Artist!

stan said...

So the name "Christmas tree" is not religious. It's a standard name used in the industry.

If the governor calls the tree by the standard name used in the industry, however, he is introducing religion.

Uh huh.

It's been 30 years since I went to law school. I guess the principles of logic have changed.

Psychedelic George said...

A nice moment here for Obama today...just make a brief public announcement saying the tax is rescinded and that it was a bad idea.

No downside to it. Warm fuzzies for all.

We'll see how long it takes him to do this. A test of his radar

If ever.

holdfast said...

Ok, but isn't the fact that the Federal government has a policy of "enhancing the image of Christmas trees", which trees are an integral part of Christian religious practice, an implicit or even explicit government endorsement of that religion? It's not the name, or even the tax, but rather the purpose to which the tax revenues will be put.

O2BNAZ said...

so here we go again, if the X-mas tree farmers wanted help they could form their own association pay voluntary dues and support their industry...instead we have government telling the farmers they need government help, taxing them them to do it and forcing them to participate in a program they may not support...on top of the reality of government bureaucracies which will consume 14of the 15 cents in "internal" costs" in the words of a great American " I pity the fools"...

JAL said...

"enhance the image of Christmas trees and the Christmas tree industry in the United States."

Is this because artificial trees are taking over the market? Who set up the panel?

Christmas trees are actually quite green. In the towns/cities they chip them up into mulch.

We put them out with stuff on them for the birds, or use them as brush jumps.

Karnival said...

Jenny hits the nail squarely. The Gummint's job description does not include choosing which industries to market, or subsidize. But it does. Our tax policies allow Gummint to wield power as it chooses, selecting winners and losers, good & evil industries (depending on who's in charge). For instance: Solyndra- good. Shell- bad. GE- good. Boeing- bad.

But, the idea of taxing Christmas trees to market Christmas trees is so ludicrous, one can only suspect there's one specific politician or district who benefits from this. I don't know who it is, but I am sure there's a story behind this tax.

A flat tax, for all the hand-wringing, takes the power of Gummint to choose winners and losers, out of their hands. And, it renders K Street, useless, for now. (until they, like cockroaches, find another way in).

Karnival said...

Whoa...I need to lose my comma key.

Chip S. said...

That is, the Department of Agriculture is going about its usual business — which you are welcome to view as too intrusive ...

Thanks; that's exactly how I view it.

This is yet another federal program that is completely unnecessary for the simple reason that there is nothing the DoA is going to do that can't already be done by the National Christmas Tree Association.

And this his how boondoggles always start: "It's only 15 cents a tree."

jrberg3 said...

"In the case of the Department of Agriculture's new Christmas Tree Promotion Board, the government is involving itself with a particular crop "

I get what you're saying, but last I checked there wasn't any particular crop called Christmas tree. Just sayin.

jrberg3 said...

"The 15-cent charge is to support a program to "enhance the image of Christmas trees and the Christmas tree industry in the United States.""

There has to be something more to this program. Who are the mensa candidates that comes up with the idea that we need to improve the image of the Christmas tree industry and propose a whole new government division and tax to support that agenda? Especially during these economic times!! It's unbelievable. This has to be something from the Onion.

Carol_Herman said...

Sometimes, "collecting a tax," just leads to illegal trade.

Stores, by the way, aren't being asked to collect this tax! The people who cut down the trees ... are being asked for this 15-cents per tree knocked down.

Who cuts down the Christmas Trees? Does the one that came down for Rockefeller Center get the same 15-cent tax ... as the little-est tree in the open yard?

For some reason, I always thought the mafia was involved in the sales of trees in NYC.

And, exactly how do you send out inspectors to make sure the felled trees get counted?

Does this "tax" only involve pine trees?

Obama, if he isn't a Muslim, sure does hold a lot of animosity towards Christians. How come he decided to be so obvious?

Chip S. said...

And, exactly how do you send out inspectors to make sure the felled trees get counted?

Simple--you hire them. Then it just becomes part of the necessary growth in overall government spending. You must know the drill by now: "Taxes are the price we pay for civilization." And what would it say about us as a people if we weren't willing to pay our fair share to support enforcement of the Christmas Tree Tax? Why do you hate government???!!!

Scott M said...

Are we going to similarly tax Hannukah candles and Kwanzaa vuvuzelas? You blow horns on Kwanzaa, right?

edutcher said...

I'm sure if the Obamas ever put up a tree, it was a Festivus tree or an October Revolution tree.

But he won't put a levy on Hanukkah bushes because he needs the Jewish vote.

Scott M said...

I'm sure if the Obamas ever put up a tree, it was a Festivus tree or an October Revolution tree.

Judging by the First Lady's shoulders, I'm betting she's the one doing the feats of strength in their house.

EDH said...

I suppose agricultural subsidies that go to hog raising could be offensive to some religions as well.

Calm down, Titus, not a subsidy for that kind of "hog raising".

edwardroyce said...

@ Ann

Great. Now you also get to explain why anybody in America above the age of 6 months needs to have the federal government extol the virtues of having a Christmas tree during Christmas.

PatCA said...

Perhaps this tax is meant in the same spirit as the taxes against Catholics in post-Catholic Britain. My ancestors left Britain for Ireland after being ruined by the tax.

T/4 Obama's base should love it: taxing the Christianists out of existence!

Another day, another king, wielding his heavy hand. I really am beginning to hate this Obama fellow, you know?

prairie wind said...

Whatever specific business he is trying to help--the agency who has a killer Christmas tree campaign they are dying to use--if I were them, I'd be thinking about what happened to Solyndra after was generous to them.

Using actual trees instead of artificial trees is green if you get them locally. Otherwise, you have to figure in the energy spent transporting them across the country. I burn no fossil fuels pulling my artificial tree out of the box.

Freeman Hunt said...

How does the executive branch impose a tax unilaterally? A person well-versed in Constitutional law, please explain.

MayBee said...

I'm trying to imagine a prayer rug tax that would go toward enhancing the image of Ramadan.

Ann Althouse said...

"Great. Now you also get to explain why anybody in America above the age of 6 months needs to have the federal government extol the virtues of having a Christmas tree during Christmas."

A lot of people are switching to artificial trees or potted, reusable trees, including many people who think that cutting down live trees is a bad thing. Presumably, Christmas tree growers would do better business if the image was: this is a crop, it's grown in a green, good way, it takes CO2 out of the atmosphere, etc.

Some people think buying a cut tree is unethical, and that image could be improved.

I assume that's what it's about.

Coketown said...

Is there a symbol in the United States today less in need of having its image enhanced? They're Christmas trees! Virtually everyone loves Christmas trees! And everyone knows what a Christmas tree is!

This story serves as another reminder of how bloated, redundant, and perfectly retarded our government has become. The Dept. of Agriculture created a new board to enhance the image of Christmas trees, the result of which was yet another tax.

Carol_Herman said...

Maybe, some White House people were sitting around the table, discusing their worries that Herman Cain was imploding. And, they wanted to stop the news cycle.

What could they do?

There's no good news out of the G20 "summit."

So, someone thought, "Gee, if we can only tax Christmas Trees, then we can twist the news cycle off the news of a Black man who likes White women?

And, in a flash, this 15-cent tax was broached.

Trees, of course, are cut down in forests.

Who is gonna go in and count the felled trees?

Whose gonna collect the tax?

I thought "only acts of Congress" can get the IRS to "reach out and touch someone."

Will Congress get involved? Will Pelosi say "you're lucky it's not a dollar?"

How does a business write off the taxes they pay out?

Maybe, if you buy a tree, to display in the lobby of your business, you can take a depreciation allowance for it? What's hidden in the "bill?"

How did the "bill" pass muster? Did it involve "hotel room upgrades?"

Scott M said...

Is there a symbol in the United States today less in need of having its image enhanced? They're Christmas trees! Virtually everyone loves Christmas trees! And everyone knows what a Christmas tree is!

Maybe Obama can have NASA dedicate some resources (they have an unlimited tap, don't they?) away from space and toward making Muslims feel better about their contributions toward the Christmas tree throughout history.

Carol_Herman said...

The rule for lighting Hanukkah candles, is that you have to display the lit candles in a window of the house.

You know, it's sort'a like left-hand turn signals. When did you ever see anyone sticking their arm out of their car's window, to signal a turn?

If inspectors go around looking for Christmas trees, they'll see them in front windows of lots of homes.

And, I've yet to see a Hanukkah lamp where the neighbors could see that candles have been lit.

But tax away.

Meanwhile, at the superarket, there used to be a whole aisle for Jewish food. Not any more. The aisle, instead, is Asian foods. They sell more.

Shelf space is indicative of popularity. And, the loss of shelf space means the opposite.

MayBee said...

Everybody knows that if you want to encourage people to use something, you tax it.

SGT Ted said...

Obama is just creating some jobs at the new Christmas Tree Tax Farm they just opened up. He'll count it as an "agriculture" job.

These clowns just can't stop it with getting in other peoples wallets.

timmaguire42 said...

These "Christmas" trees are being distinguished from other trees in commerce by (and only by) their intended use as part of a Christian ceremony--making this is a religious tax.

Obviously a much greater 1st Amendment violation than Gov. Walker's merely calling them by their proper name instead of by a silly euphemism.

BTW: why doesn't promoting the Christmas Tree industry constitute an establishment of religion?

Dave said...

Would someone please explain to me why we should have a government funded program to do the work of the National Christmas Tree Association?

Tully said...

Economy tanks, Obama claims to create jobs by taxing Christmas trees.

Joseph said...

This is just another make-work program for bureaucrats.

I can see it now... after years of government meddling, the live Christmas tree industry is near dead and the bureaucrats will say, "Things would be a lot worse if we hadn't been here." heh heh

Government, the only place where you can destroying almost everything you touch and still think you are helping.

Scott M said...

How in the world can the government choose to boost the Christmas tree industry when there are real problems in the slide-rule industry?

...my God...people are hurting out there...

Ann Althouse said...

"Would someone please explain to me why we should have a government funded program to do the work of the National Christmas Tree Association?"

It's a way to force all the growers to pay for the promotion.

Scott M said...

It's a way to force all the growers to pay for the promotion.

But that goes right back around to why the growers need promotion. Are they going to suggest it's due to the fake Christmas tree lobby beating them at softball or something?

(cuz I think the growers would win...those guys are scrappy)

Methadras said...

Why must I fund this industry? These kinds of bullshit subsidies must die and die horribly. All subsidies must die actually.

Joseph said...

To be fair concerning my earlier comment. I don't really think they will destroy the live Christmas tree industry, but that is mostly because I don't think they will do much at all except collect the taxes to distribute amongst themselves.

Freeman Hunt said...

Again, how is the executive branch allowed to impose a tax unilaterally?

MayBee said...

So is it cheaper to hire a lobbyist than a public relations person?

MayBee said...

Again, how is the executive branch allowed to impose a tax unilaterally?

That would be a good question to ask a constitutional law professor.

Levi Starks said...

But what about the fake tree industry?
who's helping them?
When someone choses a fake tree over a real tree, or vise versa one is harmed, the other is benefited.

Scott M said...

When someone choses a fake tree over a real tree, or vise versa one is harmed, the other is benefited.

Not necessarily. The growers of the real trees still hold all the patents, don't they?

Bill Harshaw said...

As the article says: "The board, proposed earlier this year, is the culmination of a years-long effort by the fresh Christmas tree industry to promote itself, according to the background provided in the Federal Register. The industry has faced increasing competition from producers of artificial trees, but efforts to collect voluntary contributions for a fresh-tree marketing campaign have repeatedly run out of funding. So the government stepped in to mandate a fee to support the promotion board. "

I assume, based on my knowledge of similar efforts, USDA held a referendum among tree growers on whether to make the fee mandatory, and a majority voted to do so, and to set up the board to spend the money. This is similar to the promotion boards for dairy ("Got Milk"), cotton, beef, wool, etc. It's been challenged on libertarian grounds, but so far successfully defended. Not sure whether the last case reached the Supreme Court--it was several years ago.

PaulV said...

Very Orwellian to call Christmas trees anything but Christmas trees. Since x's are crosses we should be up t's to remember the fallen and the no one would not complain.

Hagar said...

"Constitutional Law Professor" does not wish to answer that question?

ndspinelli said...

ScottM, You consistently make me laugh..thanks.

My daughter loves the flick Apollo 13. About the 5th time she watched it she asked me what was that ruler they were using. I had to explain to the computer generation what a slide rule is. "It's like trying to tell a stranger about rock n' roll."

MayBee said...

What is the justification to exempt all-organic tree farms?

MayBee said...

As the holidays approach, imported fresh trees will be assessed as they cross the border, and American growers will ante up in February for each fresh-cut Christmas tree sold. Small growers and all-organic tree farms will be exempt.



Call me crazy, but this seems like a plan to benefit small growers and all-organic (!!) farmers.

Thorley Winston said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MayBee said...

They have now decided to delay the tax, according to ABC news.

shu said...

This is just too weird in so many ways.

I've never understood the logic (hotel room and taxi taxes) of charging tourists a special tax so the money can be spent to promote tourism. Ditto this.

So you take a CO2 belching chainsaw and cut down a tree for a one month display. What's the carbon footprint of that? The tree hugging greenies support this?

Seriously - this thing about legislation allowing "bureaucrats gone wild" with taxes and fees JUST DON'T LOOK RIGHT TO ME (credit Red Skelton).

Thorley Winston said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Thorley Winston said...

Apparently the USDA is authorized to charge an assessment to Commodity Promotion, Research, and Information Act of 1996 to first handlers with respect to agricultural commodities produced and marketed in the United States.

JeffM said...

It's separation between Church and state, not religion and state. The original point was not to have an official denomination of Christianity be the official state religion -- as in Europe to this day where the state church is funded through taxes, or in Massachusetts up until 1833 when formal "disestablishment" finally occurred. Expunging non-denominational Christianity from the public square is not what its about.

Hagar said...

Remember a few years ago when they were finally moved to cancel a fee first attached to your telephone bill in 1899 to help pay for the Spanish-American War?

Bill Harshaw said...

According to http://www.nationalaglawcenter.org/assets/crs/95-353.pdf the Supremes okayed the beef board in 2005.

One might also note this post on the USDA blog: http://blogs.usda.gov/2011/11/08/it-takes-a-community-to-prepare-the-capitol-christmas-tree/

Freder Frederson said...

You do realize that the Christmas Tree industry association is who asked for the fee? The USDA didn't just dream this up. Just like the "milk mustache" and "beef is good food" campaigns, the USDA is involved in quite a few marketing campaigns to improve the image and visibility of U.S. agricultural products, and has been for almost 80 years.

This isn't the product of a fevered Kenyan Muslim Alinskyite Socialist imagination.

So you are all either ignorant or just decided to make a fuss because of your hatred of Obama. It is probably the latter. Slamming Obama trumps the facts any day with you people.

gail said...

This same type of "tax" was forced on dairy farmers over 10 years ago: a 15 cents/100 lbs of milk shipped. It was split between the National Dairy Promotion Board, and for Wisconsin, the WI Milk Marketing Board.

Before the tax, there was a voluntary dairy promotion group, the American Dairy Assoc.

There are also these marketing taxes on any animal sold for beef (dairy or beef), and sheep. If you sell through commercial channels, the tax is taken...NO choice.

Government should get out of forced marketing...whether it's Christmas trees, lamb or milk. Or, put a marketing tax on everything...even lawyers!

AlphaLiberal said...

More lying from Drudge and the right wing.

"Check off programs" are common in agriculture and internal to an industry. And voluntary.

The most famous result is the "Got Milk" campaign, funded with dairy checkoff dollars.

Why conservatives allow their movement to so routinely engage in deceit and then defend it is a mystery. Fewer and fewer people believe you.

See, also, too, charges from Mark Block that one of Cain's victims' sons works for Politico.

Scott M said...

Still waiting, Alpha, for you to show examples of me misrepresenting something someone has said. You make a personal accusation, I expect you to support it and stand by it.

Scott M said...

ScottM, You consistently make me laugh..thanks.

You're very welcome.

gail said...

There is NO federal funding of "got milk", the milk mustache, or any other diary promotion.

Freder,

Those two ad campaigns were paid by the CA dairy farmers through their forced deductions to the Califormia Milk Board.

USDA is the stick behind the tax, but the producers are elected to the repective boards and are responsible for spending the collected money.

I'd like to talk to the Christmas tree grower who "requested" a forced tax. They have their own trade group and do most of their own self-promotion. Show me the ad the federal government has put together. This is nothing but big brother shoving his hand in the pocket of another farmer

Original Mike said...

"Isn't advertising and promotion the job of trade associations? Why does the government need to be involved in collecting $$ to advertise a product?"

That's what I am offended by.

Freeman Hunt said...

The question isn't, "Has this ever happened before?" I assume it has. The question is, "How can the executive branch impose a tax unilaterally?" Please not that the "executive branch" is not limited to "Obama."

Where are all the Constitutional law experts? Those of us who aren't need your expertise!

Original Mike said...

"You do realize that the Christmas Tree industry association is who asked for the fee?"

So what? Just say "No".

Freeman Hunt said...

So what? Just say "No".

I agree. How is that an argument?

Reminds me of people defending the mercury light bulb thing by saying that manufacturers wanted to require the change. So what?

MayBee said...

The association asked the government to require the fee because not all tree growers wanted to participate.

Seven Machos said...

How is changing the name of Christmas Tree to Holiday Tree changing anything substantive, Althouse?

Original Mike said...

Our government has ADD. We need to take it's IPhone away.

PatCA said...

I think lots of people are asking the same question, Freeman. The Congress has ceded authority to bureaucrats in many bills. Many think this unconstitutional. So we have reached an end stage where one woman, Sebelius, is creating what is to be Obamacare. And one guy can enact a tax that benefits a corporate rent seeker.

IMHO Obama is buying up every vote he can, the Solyndra types, the tree industry types--anyone that can help him get reelected. He knows he's weakened with the general electorate.

Scott M said...

How is changing the name of Christmas Tree to Holiday Tree changing anything substantive, Althouse?

Agreed. Let's make the Kwanzaaists call it a holiday cup and the Jews call it a holiday candelabra while we're at it. Don't forget to tell the Muslims it's a holiday fast.

Start a blog. I'll sign.

machine said...

The Christmas Tree industry launched the Christmas Tree Promotion, Research and Information Order, and asked the Agriculture Department to approve a 15-cent fee, per tree, on domestic producers and importers. It was requested by the industry, to benefit the industry,and to be paid for by the industry.

The Agriculture Department solicited public feedback, and most supported the proposal. This week, officials gave the industry the green light to proceed.

And that’s when republican hacks decided to intervene.

DADvocate said...

While Christmas trees have become a symboy of Christmas, the trees origin is not Christian, but still religious.

To truly separate govrnment from religion, we need to do away with government offices closing on Christmas day, Christmas Eve, Good Friday, etc. Let the employees take vacation or personal leave time. We don't need all this giving any way. Let the government do it for us.

Bah Humbug!

MayBee said...

It was requested by the industry, to benefit the industry,and to be paid for by the industry.

If it was supported by the industry, they wouldn't need the government to compel payment of the fee.

DADvocate said...

to be paid for by the industry.

Uh huh. It's paid for by the people who buy Christmas trees.

Hater.

machine said...

“It has absolutely nothing to do with Obama, it’s not a tax,” National Christmas Tree Association spokesman Rick Dungey told TPM. “I’m slowly but surely narrowing down who the culprits are who put out that sinister little statement for whatever reasons there were.”

“Growers have been working on this for three and a half years,” Dungey added. “It’s just sort of interesting timing, and unfortunately somebody decided to smear it. It’s growers pooling their money to promote the crop that they grow on their farms.”

According to a statement issued by the group, there are at least 18 programs already in effect for other agricultural commodities under the Commodity Promotion, Research and Information Act of 1996.

Hacks...

Scott M said...

"the industry" Machine? All of them? Without reservation? Proof?

And that’s when republican hacks decided to intervene.

Two words to remember when leveling accusations of intervening hacks: delta smelt.

machine said...

DADvocate: "a 15-cent fee, per tree, on domestic producers and importers."

Not paid by purchasers of tress...



I still don't understand: If Obama is as bad as the hacks say he is, why the need to make stuff up? I mean, it should be easy right?

Seven Machos said...

Wow, Machine. That Obama sure is solving the important problems, huh?

machine said...

I doubt Obama even knew this was coming...

Do you think a President makes every decision in the federal government?

No, you don't. It's just easier that way isn't it...

Christopher said...

I'd be curious to hear how the govt. requiring "a 15-cent fee, per tree, on domestic producers and importers" is not a tax.

Please, I'm in need of some entertainment.

Seven Machos said...

Machine -- So you didn't bitch and moan like a child about Abu Ghraib -- and blame Bush? Right?

machine said...

Wow...so you connect the very public decision of the Bush Administration (Cheney)to make torture a policy of the USA, with this?

I don't remember seeing the Vice President go on TV defending the Xmas tree fees...I don't remember AG Holder or his minions making child-like legal arguments to defend the imposition fees...I don't remember seeing AG Holder lie under oath about the fees...

It's just a little different, no?

And you may call it a tax or a fee...it was sought by the industry to promote the industry.

DADvocate said...

Not paid by purchasers of tress...

Where do the Christmas tree producers get the 15 cents per tree? Does a dime and a nickel, left by the Christas hedgehog, magically appear underneath each tree?

I was under the impression that they sold the trees, for money!!, and then took 15 cents out of that money, money which they got from the purchasers of the trees, and then cheerily donated it to the government.

Ho! ho! ho!

Christopher said...

It was sought by the industry to get their grubby hands on the money of people who didn't want to give it to them.

If something is popular you don't need to force other's to take part.

DADvocate said...

I don't remember...

Have you been tested for Alzheimer's?

machine said...

Good one Dadvocate...such a sharp wit.

Seven Machos said...

so you connect the very public decision of the Bush Administration (Cheney)to make torture a policy of the USA, with this?

Abu Ghraib had nothing to do with Cheney or Bush. It was a local problem. This has been well documented. In addition, I worked at the State Department at that time. I was at the focal point. I read the cables.

The fact that you think that Bush or Cheney knew anything about or condoned Abu Ghraib makes you an absolute know-nothing idiot. Probably, you are confusing Abu Ghraib with Guantanamo Bay. They are both funny-sounding foreign names, right? I guess that's enough for someone as embarrassingly stupid and silly as you.

Game. Set. Match. You are a moron. I suggest sterilization. Isn't three generations of imbeciles in your family enough?

Freeman Hunt said...

It doesn't matter if the industry wanted it. It's a tax. Why is the executive branch allowed to enact taxes unilaterally?

Thorley Winston said...

The Christmas Tree industry launched the Christmas Tree Promotion, Research and Information Order, and asked the Agriculture Department to approve a 15-cent fee, per tree, on domestic producers and importers. It was requested by the industry, to benefit the industry, and to be paid for by the industry.


First of all it’s not a “fee” because a “fee” is charged for someone for their voluntary use of a particular service. If they don’t want to use the service, then they don’t have to pay the fee. The fact that it’s mandatory and imposed by the government (if it were voluntary, they wouldn’t need the USDA to be involved – maybe the DOJ if there are antitrust concerns though) makes it a tax.

machine said...

Abu Graib had nothing to do with Bush/Cheney?!?!?!

"The seeds of Abu Ghraib’s rotten fruit were sown by civilians at the highest levels of our government..."

Seven Machos said...

Machine -- So you are quoting a partisan speech by Carl Levin as evidence? Really?

You are a know-nothing idiot, dude. Really, truly, you are embarrassing yourself, and you are completely undermining your own point in a laughable way.

But keep on believing in dark conspiracies, dude. Whatever makes your sad, trifling life worth sustaining. Whatever justifies your utter lack of knowledge.

Thorley Winston said...

It doesn't matter if the industry wanted it. It's a tax. Why is the executive branch allowed to enact taxes unilaterally?


I agree that it’s a tax (although the term used in the statute is “assessment”) but I don’t know how correct it is to call this a unilateral move on the part of the executive branch. Congress voted and passed a statute in 1996 to delegate this authority to the USDA and the USDA has apparently followed the statutory rulemaking process (which is probably why it took three years). So long as the authority was granted by Congress and they followed the rules to enact it, it may be constitutional.

That being said, I think there is a colorable argument as to how much authority Congress can delegate to the executive branch to carry out something that is an enumerated power by Congress (e.g. taxation). I haven’t read the case for the meat board but I suspect that the law was crafted to say it’s not really a tax (which I think it is) but rather some sort of “assessment” and that courts probably went along with it.

Seven Machos said...

P.S. -- I was there, in government. I read cables that Carl Levin does not have the security clearance to read.

As I say, you are stupid.

DADvocate said...

Good one Dadvocate...such a sharp wit.

Keep on smilin'

I rarely mean anything as a personal attack, unless the person is GARAGE MAHAL!!

machine said...

hmmm...a mask, a name with "macho", and a torture apologist...who would have guessed.

Are you a Penn State fan too?

Seven Machos said...

Machine -- My God. The stupidity continues. You don't even understand the significance of my icon. You are not only a know-nothing moron, you are a provincial, unsophisticated know-nothing moron.

You are simply wrong, dude. All of the facts about Abu Ghraib are well documented. The very best you can do is point to a partisan speech by a Senator that casts aspersions. And then you head straight to attacks and insults that have nothing to do with what's at issue. And you even fail at those. That is a truly sad and massive failure.

Seven Machos said...

P.S. -- Where, beclowned imbecile, do I defend torture?

I'll wait.

John said...

Freeman Hunt said:
It doesn't matter if the industry wanted it. It's a tax. Why is the executive branch allowed to enact taxes unilaterally?

Short answer: It's not.
Long answer: It's not, but so many of its enumerated powers have been unconstitutionally delegated away from Congress that virtually anyone in the Federal Government can institute a tax with impunity because they know nobody will even try to stop them.

Freeman Hunt said...

That being said, I think there is a colorable argument as to how much authority Congress can delegate to the executive branch to carry out something that is an enumerated power by Congress (e.g. taxation).

This. I don't see how Congress can legally delegate Constitutional powers.

Peano said...

Cool, neutral analysis of the distinctions that matter can make bloviating in the emotional, political way much less thrilling,...

I suppose you think the following is 'cool, neutral analysis'?

Calling that particular tree a "Christmas tree" adds something to what already is the appearance that the state is endorsing or favoring a holiday that originated with one set of religious groups, the Christians.

wv: boargas

Indeed. And hogwash, too.

Synova said...

"but let's be fair. The 15-cent charge is to support a program to "enhance the image of Christmas trees and the Christmas tree industry in the United States.""

We're from the government and we're here to help... and you've got to pay for it, if you want it or not, because it's good for you, and we know what's good for you, and besides, it's only 15 pennies... who can justify getting grumpy over 15 pennies. That our department is paying for and justifying the jobs of the people who work here is irrelevant. This is not a government work program, this is for YOU.

Chip S. said...

Althouse offered this rationalization:

A lot of people are switching to artificial trees or potted, reusable trees, including many people who think that cutting down live trees is a bad thing. Presumably, Christmas tree growers would do better business if the image was: this is a crop, it's grown in a green, good way, it takes CO2 out of the atmosphere, etc.

Whatever happened to your "do nothing" default position for public policy?

Everything you say may be true--and probably is--without providing a sensible basis for government action. Otherwise, why not perform the same tax-for-service function for the artificial-tree industry and the potted-tree industry? And what about the LED tree-lights industry?

Freder Frederson seems to think that the fact that stupid stuff like this is already being done provides a reason to more of it, when in fact there's no particular reason to do any of it.

Unless, of course, you think that the government should always do the bidding of private industry.

Anyway, it's a moot point, for now.

Ann Althouse said...

"How does the executive branch impose a tax unilaterally? A person well-versed in Constitutional law, please explain."

It was the Dept. of Agriculture, operating under statutory authority. (I don't know a lot of details here.)

Synova said...

"Dungey added. “It’s just sort of interesting timing, and unfortunately somebody decided to smear it. It’s growers pooling their money to promote the crop that they grow on their farms.”"

There are any number of voluntary, private, business associations where growers can band together to pool their money without involving government nor coercion in any way.

If the growers are pushing for this, it's because it's the only way they can coerce other growers into paying for it.

Even if they had a "majority vote" fig leaf, it would still be wrong.

Freeman Hunt said...

It was the Dept. of Agriculture, operating under statutory authority. (I don't know a lot of details here.)

And the Dept. of Agriculture is part of the executive branch.

I question the constitutionality of delegating Constitutionally enumerated powers. But then, I'm not a Constitutional scholar. I still question the wisdom of it though.

Seven Machos said...

Freeman --- It is Congress that sets these entities up as agencies of Congress.

I agree that the power to tax should be Congress's alone, subject to votes within Congress. But this is all very acceptable under current law.

Jay said...

Calling that particular tree a "Christmas tree" adds something to what already is the appearance that the state is endorsing or favoring a holiday that originated with one set of religious groups, the Christians.


Um, the state does indeed endorse and favor Christmas.

Your point is?

Freeman Hunt said...

But it's part of the executive branch, not the legislative branch.

I think it's insane that Congress is allowed to do that. That should be abolished.

el polacko said...

christmas trees have an image problem ??

Kirk Parker said...

"christmas trees have an image problem ?? "

Well, they will now.

James said...

Why can't we all just use "Christmas trees" in reference to the crop grown by this particular industry?

Joe said...

Christmas Trees are an amazingly stupid tradition.

The notion of intentionally putting a very flammable object in your house, that gets more flammable is truly insane.

(Years ago, I bought what I though was the perfect tree. I did everything right with it, yet by Christmas it was drying badly. By Christmas afternoon, my nerves got the better of me and I took it down. I put one branch on the porch and tossed a lit match on it--POOF. That was sobering. Were it not for my wife, I would have never bought another tree. Three or so years later, my brother gave me his old artificial tree. My ex still has it.)