Babbitt's Outdoors Tax Gets Brushoff: Democrats Want No Part of Idea
Myers, E. Michael, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
Three congressional committee leaders yesterday quashed a proposed wildlife conservation tax on virtually any product used in the outdoors - an idea endorsed by Interior Secretary Bruce E. Babbitt.
And Mr. Babbitt himself promptly said the White House does not favor the idea; moreover, there were no congressional Democrats to be found in support of it yesterday.
"I think it is an extreme, extreme idea and it has little or no merit," said Sen. Frank H. Murkowski, Alaska Republican and chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
"The tax man will get his hands on countless items sure to arouse the anger of virtually every American taxpayer who steps outdoors," Rep. Bill Archer, Texas Republican and chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, said in a statement.
"While I'm not surprised that the Clinton administration is proposing yet another new tax, I'm amazed it's trying to make America's sportsmen and -women foot more of the bill to expand the federal bureaucracy," said Rep. Don Young, Alaska Republican and chairman of the House Resources Committee.
A day after he had endorsed the idea before the International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, Mr. Babbitt said he was not speaking for the Clinton administration.
"My statement led people to believe that the administration supports the wildlife agencies' proposal for an outdoor gear surcharge," Mr. Babbitt said. "That is not true. I want to clearly state that the president does not support and has not ever seen this proposal."
The tax would be a percentage of a manufacturer's price for products ranging from outdoor recreation equipment to books and videotapes, binoculars, boots, birdseed, campers and film. …