Dan Holler

I want to do a specific thing. So does my brother. You want to do the same thing. Our friend doesn’t agree. Nor does your brother. What’s our solution? We can petition the federal government to compel their compliance!

Seriously, we can do that.

Two weeks ago, America witnessed the absurdity of a relatively obscure law when the Obama administration announced a 15-cent tax on Christmas trees. After the diligent research of The Heritage Foundation prompted a public outcry, the administration quickly postponed (but not eliminated) the tax.

Perhaps more interesting is how the tax came about. The National Christmas Tree Association tried and failed three separate times to set up their own voluntary promotion fund. Some tree growers wanted it. Some tree growers didn’t. Their solution, though not novel, was to have the federal government impose the tax on all the growers.

Commodity promotions boards exist for a whole host of products. According to a 2008 Congressional Research Service report, Congress now authorizes 18 of these so-called check-off programs; including, beef, blueberries, cotton, dairy products, eggs, fluid milk, Hass avocados, honey, lamb, mangos, mushrooms, peanuts, popcorn, pork, potatoes, sorghum, soybeans, and watermelons. For the most recent year data was collected, the combined cost of these programs was more than $780 million. If you consumed one of those products, that money basically came from you.

Some of the promotion boards’ advertisements are familiar: Beef: It’s What’s for Dinner and Pork: The Other White Meat. And more of them could be on the way! Canola and rapeseed, wheat, flowers, kiwifruit, limes, and pecans have all been authorized for their own check-off programs.

This absurd logic – we’ll force you to pay for something you do not want to do – extends beyond silly commodity check-off programs, though.

Last week, 21 millionaires arrived on Capitol Hill to lobby Congress to raise their taxes. Dubbed the “Patriotic Millionaires for Fiscal Strength,” the group is seeking a new tax bracket for households earning more than $1 million per year. Their preferred rate would be 39.6%.

These millionaires believe, as Vice President Joe Biden does, that paying higher taxes is “patriotic.” They believe it is their obligation and duty; the right thing to do. Fortunately, for them, the federal government has empowered them to be patriotic. The Bureau of the Public Debt is allowed to accept gifts donated to the United States Government to reduce debt held by the public.

Dan Holler

Dan Holler is the Communications Director for Heritage Action for America. Previously, he held numerous positions at The Heritage Foundation, most recently he was the Senate Relations Deputy. A Maryland native, he is a graduate of Washington College.