WASHINGTON – The American Mustache Institute ran with it — Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Frederick, was introducing its legislation to give tax breaks to those sporting a ‘stache.
The trouble was, Bartlett never heard of the “STACHE Act” — for the Stimulus to Allow Critical Hair Expenses Act providing a $250 tax break to Mustachioed-Americans — and his press secretary never seriously submitted it as legislation.
But that didn’t stop the buzz about the cut.
The American Mustache Institute proposed the STACHE Act based on the environmental, social, and economic impacts that Mustachioed-Americans contribute.
“The cookie duster can act as a natural warming device, allowing the Mustached-American to reduce dependencies upon artificial heating devices,” wrote Dr. John Yeutter in a white paper proposal for the act.
The $250 tax deduction would go toward grooming expenses such as “trimming instruments,” “bacon,” “DVD collections of ‘Magnum P.I’,” “mustache insurance” and “Burt Reynolds wallet-sized photos.”
AMI brought the white paper proposal to the staff of Bartlett, who has sported a mustache since the 1950s.
Bartlett’s press secretary, Lisa Wright, sent the proposal to the Ways and Means Committee, which works with tax policy, without comment and without a request for action.
“Standard procedure,” Wright said. “And I informed the Mustache Institute that I referred their proposal as a media inquiry.”
AMI misunderstood and announced on its STACHE Act website that “the congressman has begun the process of ensuring STACHE Act becomes law.”
By passing the information along, Wright was not starting legislation. Bartlett didn’t even see the proposal.
“It’s very common for advocacy organizations to make leaps and run with them,” Wright said.
And did it run.
CNN, newspapers, blogs and people on Twitter were confused that the fiscally-conservative Republican 10-term congressman would support not only a joke, but — gasp — a tax break.
The Maryland Democratic Party tweeted, “@Roscoe_Bartlett support tax cuts for millionaires, big oil & men with mustaches. Absurd.”
“As we deal with a tough economy, foreclosures, budget cuts, etc @Roscoe_Bartlett more concerned with Mustache Tax Cuts,” tweeted Democratic challenger Rob Garagiola.
Bartlett faces a tough re-election battle in the 6th Congressional District after redistricting made the area more competitive.
But will the mustachioed congressman ever support facial-hair legislation?
“For the record: Roscoe is pro-stache, but he does not believe Americans should pay for people’s personal grooming decisions,” Bartlett’s Chief of Staff Deborah Burrell said in a statement.