Retail group slams GOP border tax with SNL-style parody commercial

A top retail group is launching a TV ad campaign slamming House Republicans' proposed border-adjustment tax with a parody of classic informercials.  

The National Retail Federation (NRF) on Tuesday debuted the ad on "Fox and Friends," and it will air during this week's "Saturday Night Live." Both are shows President Trump is known to watch, and "SNL" parody commercials appear to be the ad's inspiration.

The ad is a take on pitchman-style commercials like those for OxiClean. 

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"Too much dough got you feeling low? Too much cash breaking your back? Then you need … the BAT tax!" the pitchman in the ad says. "The all-new BAT tax is specially designed to make your disposable income — disappear!"

He adds that the proposal will "tax your car, your food, your gas, your medicine, your clothes — you name it, BAT will tax it!"

The border-adjustment proposal, which would tax imports and exempt exports, is a key feature of the House GOP tax-reform plan. Lawmakers and businesses that support the proposal argue it would raise revenue that could pay for lowering tax rates and would level the playing field between American-made and foreign-made products.

But retailers are fiercely opposed to the proposal, arguing that it would raise their taxes and increase the cost of goods for consumers.

The new TV ad is part of a broader campaign against the border-adjustment tax from the NRF that also include digital and print components.

“American consumers are being asked to foot the bill for a new $1 trillion tax giveaway for multinational companies, and this campaign will make sure those paying for it know it,” David French, senior vice president for government relations at the NRF, said in a news release.

“We need tax reform that rewards entrepreneurs and allows businesses to grow and create good-paying jobs that lift working families up," he added. "The BAT does just the opposite, penalizing Americans by adding a tax on clothing, food, gas and other necessities while threatening the very industry that 42 million hardworking men and women rely upon for their livelihoods.”

The NRF isn't the only group to have launched a TV ad against the border-adjustment tax. The Club for Growth, a free-market group, launched an ad last week that specifically urges Rep. Kristin Noem (R-S.D.), a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, to oppose the tax.

On Monday, a coalition of retailers called Americans for Affordable Products (AAP) urged cable TV producers to ask companies that support the the border-adjustment tax if they would end up paying no taxes under the proposal.

The coalition, which counts the NRF as one of its members, sent a letter to congressional leaders on Tuesday making the case against the tax.

"It is really a 'cost of living tax' that will make the lives of millions of middle-class Americans harder and more expensive," AAP said. "Moreover, it imperils millions of good jobs in America as viable businesses likely would be forced to close as the result of this policy."

Meanwhile, a group of businesses that supports the border-adjustment proposal released a video this week that urges people to back the provision and the House GOP blueprint.

The video, from the American Made Coalition, argues that most other countries already have border-adjusted taxes, and that the House GOP proposal would amount to ending a tax on American-made products.

The video also argues that those who say the BAT will lead to higher prices "have offered misleading soundbites." The narrator in the video says that "economists have shown that with a stronger dollar, prices will actually stay relatively even."

Coalition spokesman John Gentzel said the video will be promoted in the D.C. area and targeted states, and that the group will run TV ads soon.

Updated at 2:06 p.m.