Koch-backed group unveils TV ad against border tax

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A free-market group with ties to conservative billionaires Charles and David Koch on Monday unveiled a television ad in opposition to House Republicans’ border-adjustment tax proposal as President Trump and congressional Republicans are turning their focus to tax reform.

The ad is the latest effort from Americans for Prosperity (AFP) to oppose the proposal. AFP said it is spending six figures on the ad buy and that the commercial will appear nationwide on cable news channels for one week starting on Tuesday.

The border-adjustment tax would subject imports to a 20 percent tax and exempt exports. It is a key element of a tax-reform blueprint that House Republicans are using as the starting point for legislation.

It has also been the focus of intense lobbying, with supporters and opponents working hard to make their cases to lawmakers. Supporters of the border-adjustment tax say it would take away companies’ reasons for moving jobs overseas, while opponents say it would lead to higher prices on consumer goods.

AFP’s ad argues that the border-adjustment tax is not in line with the message that voters supported in the 2016 elections. The commercial includes images of a man in a Trump-style red hat in a room that looks like it was the site of an election victory party.

“America voted for change, economic growth and to stop wasteful spending,” the narrator in the ad says. “But now, some members of Congress want a new trillion-dollar BAT consumer tax that could drive up your costs and hurt our economy.”

The ad also calls the border-adjustment tax a consumer tax hike that’s “as big as ObamaCare.”

“Imposing a massive 20-percent import tax is the wrong approach,” AFP President Tim Phillips said in a statement. “A border adjustment tax would harm hard working families that deserve relief from the tax code, not a new consumer tax that would drive up the cost of everyday items. Congress needs to know this is not the change the American people signed up for.”

AFP has been advocating against the border-adjustment proposal for the last several months and has used a number of tactics in doing so.

Last week, AFP and another Koch-backed group, Freedom Partners, released a report arguing that a border-adjustment tax would hurt every state. Michigan, Louisiana, Tennessee, New Jersey, Kentucky, South Carolina, Illinois, Texas, Georgia and California would be among the states that would be particularly vulnerable, according to the report.

Other groups have also run television ads about the border-adjustment tax.

The National Retail Federation and the Club for Growth have both run ads against the proposal, while the American Made Coalition — a group of businesses that includes Boeing and General Election — has run a TV ad in favor of the proposal and the House Republicans’ tax blueprint.

Leaders of the House Republicans’ tax-reform effort are committed to the border-adjustment tax. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) told reporters Thursday that “at the end of the day, we’re not going to keep the tax code that favors foreign products.”

Brady also pushed back on AFP’s report, saying it “probably fits the definition of fake news.”

But the fate of the border tax proposal is uncertain. Many GOP senators have expressed opposition to the border-adjustment tax, and Trump hasn’t provided a clear stance on the matter.

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