Washington Free Beacon
December 24, 2020
President-elect Joe Biden’s pick to lead the Department of Agriculture tried to put a tax on Christmas trees the last time he was in charge of the agency.
Tom Vilsack (D.), a former Iowa governor who was agriculture secretary when Biden was vice president, implemented a 15-cent tax on each live Christmas tree in the United States in 2011. His attempt ultimately fell short: Facing widespread criticism, the Obama administration paused the tax just one day after it went into effect and abandoned it altogether the following week.
Vilsack’s agency said the Christmas-tree tax was intended to subsidize a $2 million advertising campaign to counter market trends that it claimed increasingly favored plastic Christmas trees over their live counterparts. It was also intended to fund research into growing trees that shed fewer needles.
Critics scoffed at the idea that a tax was needed to promote Christmas. Then-senator Jim DeMint (R., S.C.) called Vilsack’s move “the stupidest tax of all time” and questioned the need for a government-backed advertising scheme for one of America’s favorite Christmas symbols.