White House Gets Dept. Of Agriculture To Delay Christmas Tree Tax

Less than 24 hours after the Dept. of Agriculture announced a program that would charge a $.15/tree “tax” to Christmas tree growers in order to fund a campaign to promote those very trees, the White House has responded to the flurry of criticism by asking the regulators to rethink the idea.

Said White House spokesman Matt Lehrich:

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… That said, USDA is going to delay implementation and revisit this action.

Opponents of the fee, which had been largely supported by the people who would have been paying it, argued that those $.15 would have been passed on to consumers.

But the folks at the National Christmas Tree Association issued a statement saying, “The program is not expected to have any impact on the final price consumers pay for their Christmas tree.”

In the end, it looks like the Christmas tree industry probably received more press in the last 18 hours than it would have via the $2 million ad campaign those $.15 fees would have funded.

Amid Uproar, White House Sidelines “Christmas Tree Tax” [Slate]

Thanks to Adam for the tip!