Tag Archives: President

The Obama Christmas Tree Tax Debunked

Look, I’m no fan of the current POTUS.  I think he’s earnest, works hard, and is actually quite smart, but the guy has failed the American people in one of the most important jobs of the President, leadership.

That said, I have little patience for stupid distractions.  The latest involves a series of blog posts and Fox News reports that range from the somewhat sensible, Christmas tree tax to promote the real thing, courtesy of the Chicago Tribune, to the absolutely ridiculous, Obama Couldn’t Wait: His New Christmas Tree Tax from The Heritage Network.  The latter of course quite stupidly implying that the President is taxing Christmas.

Here’s the reality:

The Christmas Tree “assessment” is essentially the same thing as all of the other USDA sponsored generic advertising campaigns financed by producers with the intent to increase demand. Promotional boards exist for big commodities such as beef, milk, cheese, pork, eggs etc but also for smaller specialty crop industries such as blueberries, mushrooms, peanuts, and watermelon, and now Christmas trees.

Now, is it possible that the assessment will be passed on to consumers? Sure. So let’s be on the look out for trees that cost $50.14 instead of $49.99.

Frankly I’m not sure how effective these generic ad campaigns are for specialty crops, but 70% of growers supported this assessment so they must see a pretty big upside.

A more reasonable debate would be around how any of the “incredible edible egg” adverts end up “needing” to be, I’ll be generous here, facilitated, by a federal agency. I’d much rather some particularly ambitious Christmas tree farmer create their own foundation for the promotion of said item, ask for donations from growers and so forth (proving via business case that for every dollar spent, expect x dollars in return sales, etc.) My main point here is that this is not, as Fox News would have us believe, an OMG Obama is taxing Christmas wharrgarbl!

There are plenty of real items to criticize our POTUS for and there is even real debate to be had within this very issue. But not the way the right wing press is trying to couch it for rating’s sake.


Why is Jon Huntsman Not Getting Traction

While it’s still early in the race for the 2012 Republican nomination, the question has been asked by many. Why is it, that the one GOP candidate who has corporate executive experience, government executive experience, extensive foreign policy experience (including with the United States’ most important foreign relationship – China) and with a track record of success implementing pro growth strategies, not getting any traction in national polls?

I’m talking of course about Jon Huntsman, former Governor of Utah, former CEO at Huntsman Chemical, former US Ambassador to China and Singapore (among other posts for President’s as far back as Ronald Reagan).

I have some ideas. One, he’s not gimmicky. Cain’s 999 is a step in the right direction in that it addresses tax reform; but as we’ve seen it’s not grounded in practical economics and recent analyses suggest that Cain’s plan would raise taxes on 84% of Americans. Huntsman has had a major tax reform plan since day one modeled on what actually worked in Utah. He writes op-eds explaining his stances on complex issues such as financial reform and economic revitalization and in general tends to not speak in sound bites.

Two, he’s not incendiary. He’s said he wanted to win by taking the high road and will strive to keep to the issues of the day without demonizing his opponents (of either party); we’ll see if that’s possible in this media climate.

Three, he’s not controversial. His biggest press so far has been when he essentially tweeted that he supports the scientific method…and somehow that’s what became controversial!

Fourth, he scares the establishment. Romney has already received over $7M in contributions from finance, with Goldman Sachs topping his list, Perry has pulled in $1.9M so far from finance, while Huntsman has pulled in $400K. By the way, President Obama has pulled in $3.9M so far from this sector. That’s why Huntsman can criticize Dodd-Frank in the WSJ op-eds while Romney’s and Obama’s coziness suggests we should expect nothing but more recklessness should either of those two occupy 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue come January 20, 2013 (or January 21st, since the 20th is a Sunday).

So sadly, if we flip the reasons why Huntsman isn’t gaining traction in the primary – yet – we see that the early route to get noticed is to be gimmicky, speak in sound bites, play attack politics, espouse fringe ideas, all the while promising the status quo to those financing your campaign.  Let us hope as real elections begin taking place, that cooler (and smarter) heads will prevail.