Tax law supporters rally for Republicans in tough races

Tax law supporters rally for Republicans in tough races
© Greg Nash

Business groups that backed the tax bill are trying to help vulnerable Republican lawmakers by highlighting their work on the issue.

They are running ads in the lawmakers’ districts and partnering with them on events at businesses that have benefited from the tax law. 

Prominent business groups for years had dreamed of an overhaul of the tax code that would cut taxes for corporations and small businesses and revamp the U.S.’s system of taxing corporations’ foreign earnings. They said that these changes would allow companies to hire more employees and make new investments to grow their businesses. 

At the end of 2017, the dream became a reality, with President TrumpDonald John TrumpThorny part of obstruction of justice is proving intent, that's a job for Congress Obama condemns attacks in Sri Lanka as 'an attack on humanity' Schiff rips Conway's 'display of alternative facts' on Russian election interference MORE signing a sweeping tax overhaul into law.

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Nearly every GOP lawmaker voted for the tax law; it did not get a single Democratic vote. 

Since the law passed, business groups have been working to make the case that the tax law is working as promised. Some of their efforts have involved promoting the law by thanking the GOP lawmakers for supporting it.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce started running ads in four congressional districts that tout the tax law and the vulnerable GOP lawmakers who helped make it a reality. 

In three of the districts where the Chamber is running ads, the Republican is facing a competitive race this fall; those members are Reps. Erik PaulsenErik Philip PaulsenBlue states angry over SALT cap should give fiscal sobriety a try Push for ‘Medicare for all’ worries centrist Dems Lawmakers beat lobbyists at charity hockey game MORE (Minn.), Barbara ComstockBarbara Jean ComstockGOP lawmaker introduces bill to stop revolving door Ex-lawmakers face new scrutiny over lobbying Trump suggests Heller lost reelection bid because he was 'hostile' during 2016 presidential campaign MORE (Va.) and Don Bacon (R-Neb.). The fourth lawmaker who the Chamber is touting is Rep. Martha RobyMartha Dubina RobyOcasio-Cortez: 'I was stopped because it was assumed I was an intern' Insurgency shakes up Democratic establishment Dem House candidate claims Russians tried to hack campaign website MORE (R-Ala.), who faces a competitive Republican primary. 

“The U.S. Chamber was all-in for getting tax reform across the finish line, and we’re all-in sharing how the new law is improving lives for American families, workers, and job creators,” a spokeswoman for the group said. “Ahead of the midterm elections, we’re running House ads that tell the story of tax reform by localizing the issue and highlighting growth and job creation.”

“Our team is also traveling to local chambers to discuss tax reform’s benefits, and we continue to promote our map that tracks how businesses are unleashing new investment because of tax reform. From coast to coast, the Chamber is focused on telling the growth story,” the spokeswoman added.

The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) has expanded its grass-roots advocacy team, which is connecting lawmakers to manufacturers in their districts that say they are being helped by the tax law. The group held an event with Comstock in April and is planning to hold events with other lawmakers in competitive districts in the future. 

The NAM is also highlighting testimonials from manufacturers who made investments, boosted hiring and gave employees wage increases and bonuses following the tax law’s passage. The testimonials are from businesses in both Republican and Democratic areas. 

“From a policy perspective, this is a nonpartisan issue,” said Chris Netram, vice president of tax and domestic economic policy at the NAM. 

Another group, the Job Creators Network, started a bus tour in April, on which they’ve promoted the tax law alongside vulnerable GOP lawmakers. 

So far, the group has held events that have featured vulnerable GOP lawmakers including Comstock and Reps. Scott TaylorScott William TaylorThe 31 Trump districts that will determine the next House majority Ex-GOP Rep. Ryan Costello joins group pushing carbon tax Virginia New Members 2019 MORE (Va.) and Randy HultgrenRandall (Randy) Mark HultgrenIllinois Dems offer bill to raise SALT deduction cap The 31 Trump districts that will determine the next House majority Lauren Underwood becomes youngest ever black woman to be sworn in to Congress MORE (Ill.).

Alfredo Ortiz, president and CEO of the Job Creators Network, said that the events are focused on highlighting how the tax law is helping small businesses. He said they give business owners a chance to “thank the congressman for their vote.” He also said that the group by default is only having Republicans at their events because no Democrats backed the tax law.

“I would love to support every person who voted for the tax bill,” he said.

Hultgren said it’s helpful to have groups like the Job Creators Network work with him to promote the tax law.

“I just love hearing the stories, so if they can help us connect with their members who have really positive stories of hiring more people, raising wages ... buying new equipment, it’s great stuff,“ he said. “We’re trying to get that ourselves, but we’re open to whoever can help us get access to that.” 

Conservatives said that it is beneficial for GOP lawmakers and businesses to work together to sell the tax law. 

“It is smart politics on [the businesses’] side because they’re worried if Democrats retake the House, they’ll tinker with the tax law,” said GOP strategist Ford O’Connell. He noted that House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiSenate Republicans tested on Trump support after Mueller End of Mueller shifts focus to existing probes Democrats renew attacks on Trump attorney general MORE (D-Calif.) has said she’d roll back some of the tax cuts, and that Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerHillicon Valley: House Dems subpoena full Mueller report | DOJ pushes back at 'premature' subpoena | Dems reject offer to view report with fewer redactions | Trump camp runs Facebook ads about Mueller report | Uber gets B for self-driving cars Dem legal analyst says media 'overplayed' hand in Mueller coverage Former FBI official praises Barr for 'professional' press conference MORE (D-N.Y.) has proposed rolling back some of the tax cuts to pay for infrastructure investments.

Ryan Ellis, the senior tax adviser at the Family Business Coalition, said that it can be helpful for lawmakers to show how businesses in their districts are using the tax savings to benefit their communities.

He said there is a disconnect between how businesses view the tax law and how individuals see it.

“Part of your job to get reelected is to bridge that gap as much as you can,” Ellis said.

Not all business groups support the tax law.

One such group is the Main Street Alliance, a coalition of progressive small business owners.

“We should not be designing tax policy that first and foremost puts more and more money into the pockets of those who least need it,” said David Borris, a member of the group’s executive committee.

A coalition of small businesses formed a group called Businesses for Responsible Tax Reform last fall to push back against proposals that they viewed as providing a much larger benefit for corporations than small companies.

Frank Knapp Jr., co-chair of the group, said that workers aren’t seeing the benefits of the tax law, and if the law did what its supporters alleged it would, “those big business organizations would not have to be working so hard.”