Obama’s New “Christmas Tree” Tax

President Obama’s Agriculture Department today announced that it will impose a new 15-cent charge on all fresh Christmas trees—the Christmas Tree Tax—to support a new Federal program to improve the image and marketing of Christmas trees.

In the Federal Register of November 8, 2011, Acting Administrator of Agricultural Marketing David R. Shipman announced that the Secretary of Agriculture will appoint a Christmas Tree Promotion Board. The purpose of the Board is to run a “program of promotion, research, evaluation, and information designed to strengthen the Christmas tree industry’s position in the marketplace; maintain and expend existing markets for Christmas trees; and to carry out programs, plans, and projects designed to provide maximum benefits to the Christmas tree industry” (7 CFR 1214.46(n)). And the program of “information” is to include efforts to “enhance the image of Christmas trees and the Christmas tree industry in the United States” (7 CFR 1214.10).

To pay for the new Federal Christmas tree image improvement and marketing program, the Department of Agriculture imposed a 15-cent fee on all sales of fresh Christmas trees by sellers of more than 500 trees per year (7 CFR 1214.52). And, of course, the Christmas tree sellers are free to pass along the 15-cent Federal fee to consumers who buy their Christmas trees.

Acting Administrator Shipman had the temerity to say the 15-cent mandatory Christmas tree fee “is not a tax nor does it yield revenue for the Federal government” (76 CFR 69102). The Federal government mandates that the Christmas tree sellers pay the 15-cents per tree, whether they want to or not. The Federal government directs that the revenue generated by the 15-cent fee goes to the Board appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture to carry out the Christmas tree program established by the Secretary of Agriculture. Mr. President, that’s a new 15-cent tax to pay for a Federal program to improve the image and marketing of Christmas trees.

Nobody is saying President Obama doesn’t have authority to impose his new Christmas Tree Tax — his Administration cites the Commodity Promotion, Research and Information Act of 1996. Just because the Obama Administration has the legal power to impose its Christmas Tree Tax doesn’t mean it should do so.

Read more here.

Ohioans: out of work? Why continue to support unions?

The Ohio economy is a wreck .. and the voters in Ohio are going to make sure it stays that way today. Not so much the voters who will show up at the polls for today’s election, but the voters who will sit on their butts making excuses as to why they just can’t find the time to go to the polls.

The issue? Labor unions. Unions have been major contributors to Ohio’s failed economy. Ohio’s new Republican Governor, John Kasich, tried to correct at least part of the problem by promoting and signing legislation that would eliminate collective bargaining for government union workers and requiring these pampered government employee union members to pay 15% of the cost of their health insurance. The average private sector worker pays 23% of the cost of their insurance, but union members, as you know, are special. They are way, way above those simpleton private sector workers. They should make more and pay less for their benefits.

Collective bargaining for government employee union members? Let’s see if I can show you why this is such a bad idea.

* Government employee unions put their support behind a specific candidate for, let’s say, the Dayton City Council. They pour huge amounts of money and volunteers into getting this man elected.

* The union candidate wins.

* The union contract with the city is set to expire, so the union negotiators start to meet with the city council to hash out a new contract.

* The union makes sure – though the union-backed city council member doesn’t need reminding – that it was union money, volunteers and money that got him elected. He needs to remember who brought him to the party while the new contract is being negotiated.

* The politician experiences a rare moment of clear thought and starts to wonder aloud why government union members have pension plans that are far better than their private sector counterparts, and why they have better pension benefits and pay less for their superior health insurance policies.

* The politician is asked how he would like it if the unions threw their support behind his opponent in the next election, and suddenly has a change of heart.

* The new contract is agreed to. Unions retain their pay and benefits and don’t have to pay any more for their health insurance policies.

Does this scenario make any sense on any level? The situation is much different in the private sector. There the unions don’t chose who they will be negotiating with for a new contract. The union negotiators represent the union members’ interests, and the team negotiating for the company represents the owners or the shareholders’ interest. The unions can’t threaten the company’s negotiators with the loss of their job if the unions don’t get what they want. It’s bad enough that we have unions representing government employees … but to allow them to chose the very people they will be negotiating with is an atrocity.

So here’s what happened: Kasich got his new law passed taking away collective bargaining rights from government sector unions. The new law also eliminates binding arbitration for government employees and eliminates the right to strike. The Democrats and the unions then poured big bucks into a petition drive to collect 231,000 signatures calling for an election to repeal the law. That question will be on the ballot today — and the Democrat Party and the unions have poured literally millions of dollars into a campaign to repeal the measure.

Who are democrats?

Identifying as a Democrat is becoming more of a peculiarity each day that passes. Latest Gallup polling shows that the number of Americans who self-identify as conservatives is literally double the amount of those who call themselves a liberal. Now I realize that not all liberals are Democrats, but for the purposes of the 2012 election, we can safely assume that most liberals will be sympathetic to Barack Obama’s cause.

From what we can tell, the Democrats who voted Obama into office in 2008 are pretty much the same as those who will vote for him in 2012. There are, however, a few differences … from Gallup:

1. Perhaps the most significant change in the composition of Democrats between 2008 and today is the two-point increase, from 35% to 37%, in the percentage describing their political views as “liberal.” This occurred at a time when the country as a whole became slightly more conservative, thus expanding the political gap between Democrats and the rest of the U.S.

2. The proportion of Democrats who identify their race as black grew by three percentage points, from 16% to 19%, over the last three years, while the proportion that is white (non-Hispanic) fell by three points, from 66% to 63%.

3. Democrats remain less likely to attend church weekly and more likely to seldom or never attend church than the national average.

4. The proportion of Democrats who are Catholic or who identify with a non-Christian religion declined slightly between 2008 and 2011, while the percentage not identifying with any faith increased by four percentage points.

5. The percentage of the total national adult sample and the sample of Democrats in the 18 to 29 age group has increased slightly over the last three years. Young adults continue to make up a slightly greater proportion of the Democratic base than of the overall population.

6. Democrats are significantly less likely than the U.S. population as a whole to be married, as was true in 2008.

7. Democrats are now slightly more likely than the national population to be college educated, although the differences are not large.

Witness: Cain accuser hugged him during Tea Party meeting a month ago

The Cain Encounter …

They hugged each other backstage in a full embrace like old friends.

She grabbed his arm and whispered in his left ear.

She kept talking as he bent to listen, and he kept saying “Uh, huh. Uh, huh.”

Huh?

“I don’t know if what she was giving him was a sucker punch, but he didn’t put his arm down while she was talking to him,” said the Sneed source.

◆The “he”… is GOP presidential contender Herman Cain, who has been accused of sexual harassment by several women.

◆The “she”… is Chicagoan Sharon Bialek, who held a news conference Tuesday as the only woman to PUBLICLY accuse Cain of sexual harassment.

◆The Sneed source … is WIND radio co-host Amy Jacobson, who tells Sneed she witnessed the Cain/Bialek encounter a month ago while backstage at the AM 560 WIND sponsored TeaCon meeting in Schaumburg Sept. 30-Oct. 1 at the Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center.

◆Quoth Jacobson: “I had turned on TV to find out who was Cain’s accuser, and I almost fell over when I saw it was Sharon Bialek accusing Cain of groping her genitals.”

“I was waiting for Herman Cain’s ‘Accuser No. 4’ to surface — and up pops Sharon!”

“I couldn’t believe it. I was shocked.”

“I recall Sharon was hell bent on going backstage at the TeaCon convention — where she cornered him,” said Jacobson.

“I was surprised to hear she claims she did not know Cain was going to be there. Cain was expected and was late.”

Bialek told the media on Monday: “I went up to him and asked him if he remembered me. I wanted to see if he would be man enough to own up to what he had done 14 years ago.”

◆The encounter: “It looked sort of flirtatious,” said Jacobson. “I mean they were hugging. But she could have been giving him the kiss of death for all I know. I had no idea what they were talking about, but she was inches from his ear.”

◆The introduction: “It all began when I took a convention break and joined my pals at the hotel bar. Sharon was drinking Mimosas with them. She said she was a Republican, a Tea Party member, had once dated [White Sox sports announcer’ Steve Stone] and had worked at WGN radio.”

◆The rendezvous: Sharon also said she was anxious to meet Cain again and had once gone to an afterparty with him and her boyfriend years ago. But she never mentioned he had sexually harassed her.”

◆The upshot: Bialek has since applied for employment in sales at WIND radio and is scheduled for a second interview Thursday.

So it goes.

SoCal Street Cart Vendors Hurting After ‘Occupy’ Group Splatters Blood, Urine

A pair of Southland street cart vendors who were forced to shut down their businesses after “Occupy” protesters vandalized their carts are hoping to get some help from local residents.

KNX 1070′s Tom Reopelle reports a fundraiser in the Gas Lamp district in San Diego on Monday night is aimed at helping two vendors get back on their feet.

The coffee and hot dog carts were located in Civic Center Plaza, the same location as the Occupy San Diego protesters.

That group first settled in to the plaza Oct. 7 and set up a tent city which has since twice been taken down by police.

Coffee cart owner Linda Jenson and hot dog cart operators Letty and Pete Soto said they initially provided free food and drink to demonstrators, but when they stopped, the protesters became violent.

Read more here.

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