WASHINGTON, Nov. 9 (UPI) -- The Obama administration says it has decided to delay a controversial, if tiny, Christmas tree fee.
"I can tell you unequivocally that the Obama administration is not taxing Christmas trees," ABC News quoted White House spokesman Matt Lehrich as saying.
The International Business Times reported the administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture originally announced Wednesday it would impose a 15-cent charge on all fresh Christmas trees. The money, about $2 million, would support a federal program to improve the Christmas tree industry, similar to the "Got Milk" ads or "Where's the beef" ads run by the USDA.
A 12-member board would have distributed the money.
But at least one industry insider said the news media got it wrong.
"Well, obviously ... the media got it wrong blaming the Obama administration. We started in 2008. This is totally outside the executive office," said Richard Moore, a former Cornell professor and director of the Christmas Tree Growers Association. He said the administration had nothing to do with the industry regulated program.
Robert Brown, independent Christmas tree farmer in upstate New York, said, "This was kind of snuck in by the National Christmas Tree Organization," the Business Times reported.