Right-wing media figures are accusing the Obama administration of seeking to impose a tax on Christmas trees; but the Christmas tree industry has been working since 2008 -- before President Obama was elected -- to partner with the Department of Agriculture and establish a marketing campaign funded by tree growers in order to promote the sale of fresh Christmas trees.
On November 8, the Federal Register published a rule establishing a program within the U.S. Department of Agriculture "to strengthen the position of fresh cut Christmas trees in the marketplace and maintain and expand markets for Christmas trees within the United States":
USDA received a proposal for a national research and promotion program for Christmas trees from the Christmas Tree Checkoff Task Force (Task Force). The program will be financed by an assessment on Christmas trees domestic producers and importers and would be administered by a board of industry members selected by the Secretary of Agriculture (Secretary). The initial assessment rate will be $0.15 per Christmas tree domestically produced or imported into the United States and could be increased up to $0.20 per Christmas tree. The purpose of the program will be to strengthen the position of fresh cut Christmas trees in the marketplace and maintain and expand markets for Christmas trees within the United States.
The Task Force proposed that a referendum be held among domestic producers and importers three years after the first assessments begin to determine whether they favor continuation of the program.
Gateway Pundit blogger Jim Hoft said the "Christmas Tree Tax" illustrated that "Barack Obama hates Christians."
Far from a tax initiated by the Obama administration, the proposal to create an assessment on tree growers to fund a research and promotion program through the USDA was begun by the industry during the Bush administration.
From the December 17 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
Loading the player reg...
From the December 17 broadcast of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
Loading the player reg...
From the December 16 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
Loading the player reg...
Last Saturday, Fox & Friends Saturday showed the first signs that Fox may be defecting in its "war on Christmas" by showing pictures from their "Holiday Party." Traditionally, Fox has energetically defended the use of the word "Christmas" and fought against the more generic "Happy Holidays." Fox & Friends host Gretchen Carlson has been at the forefront of Fox's "War on Christmas," even going so far as to say "I'm all for free speech and free rights, just not on December 25th."
Today, while Carlson was out sick, the following on-screen graphic aired:
As we all know from the intense Fox News coverage beginning in mid-November, there is no story more important to our nation than whether people, companies, and towns wish each other "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Holidays." Dubbed the "War on Christmas," Fox has dived headfirst into their perennial campaign to keep their viewers well-informed about who is committing the unforgivable sin of removing the word "Christmas" from the season and thereby somehow hastening the demise of what may be our nation's largest cultural and religious event. Just last week, for example, we were treated to three days of breathless coverage on Fox & Friends about a local parade in Tulsa, OK whose organizers decided to change the name from the "Christmas Parade of Lights" to the "Holiday Parade of Lights." Host Gretchen Carlson, one of the staunchest soldiers in the attempt to defend Christmas from its devious enemies, even thought it was important to note multiple times that the organizers' decision had prompted Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe and the Acres of Love Alpaca Farm to no longer participate in the event.
This morning, however, the War on Christmas took a strange turn. While covering their seasonal party, Fox & Friends Saturday dropped the following bombshell:
On Fox & Friends, following co-host Steve Doocy's remark that "we've got to be tolerant of people who celebrate holidays in December, like Ramadan. ... [Y]ou've got to be tolerant of all people," co-host Gretchen Carlson declared: "I am tolerant. I'm all for free speech and free rights, just not on December 25th."
On his radio show, Bill O'Reilly claimed that retailers Best Buy and Crate & Barrel are "still ordering their people not to say, 'Merry Christmas,' " and that the stores "will fire" employees who do. According to each store's spokesperson, neither retail chain has such a policy.
Bill O'Reilly revived the "war" on Christmas and declared that "[m]aybe the imams who got thrown off the plane [would] shop" at the home furnishings retailer Crate & Barrel because it has a policy of saying "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas." O'Reilly also declared that Christmas is "a secular holiday" that "honors the birth of Jesus. ... And the reason it does is because Jesus was a philosopher," but "you can have a religious connotation to the holiday if you choose to."
Bill O'Reilly once again resurrected his misleading claim that a Wisconsin elementary school "sang a whole different lyric to 'Silent Night,' " erroneously attributing the school's changed lyrics to political correctness. In fact, the new lyrics were merely part of a 1988 Christmas play called The Little Tree's Christmas Gift.