In a move that both Santa and Scrooge would probably have an opinion about, the US Agriculture Department yesterday OKed a Christmas tree "tax." The 15-cent fee (which the USDA is calling a charge, not a tax) will be imposed on American growers and importers, and is expected to raise $2 million annually—which will then be used to fund an ad campaign pushing real, live trees over marketshare-grabbing fake ones. Sales of freshly cut trees have sunk from 37 million in 1991 to 31 million in 2007; in that year, 17.4 million artificial trees were sold.
But some of the country's 12,000 tree farms aren't pleased with the Christmas Tree Promotion, Research, and Information Order: McClatchy/Tribune News notes that Texas and Vermont growers were opposed. Some of the country's citizens (and media outlets) aren't too pleased either, reports Gawker, which notes that the Drudge Report's top story is OBAMA'S NEW 'CHRISTMAS TREE TAX.' At MichelleMalkin.com, Doug Powers predicts that the charge will be passed on to consumers and quips, "Look for a 'cash for artificial tree clunkers' program to be introduced by next Christmas to get the faux alternatives off the streets." David Addington at the Heritage blog is particularly incensed: "The economy is barely growing and 9% of the American people have no jobs. Is a new tax on Christmas trees the best President Obama can do?" Gawker notes that the tax was first discussed at the USDA at the end of George W Bush's second term. (Read more Christmas tree stories.)