WASHINGTON Opponents of a proposal to create a U.S. border tax on imported goods are targeting lawmakers in their home states for the next two weeks while Congress is in recess, according to organizers of the lobbying effort.
The anti-border tax coalition, known as Americans for Affordable Products, includes large corporations that require imports like automakers and retail giants like Target (TGT.N) , Best Buy (BBY.N) and Walmart (WMT.N). The tax opponents will target 40 members of Congress in 11 states, said coalition spokesman Joshua Baca.
“We’re talking to businesses, local associations, having a frank conversation with them about how dumb this idea is,” Baca said. His group argues the proposal will raise consumer prices.
As part of a total overhaul of the U.S. tax code, Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan has proposed lowering the corporate income tax to 20 percent from 35 percent, imposing a 20 percent tax on imports and excluding export revenue from taxable income.
The proposal has some strong corporate backers who say it will boost American jobs and not raise prices, including companies that do considerable amount of exporting, such as Boeing (BA.N), Caterpillar (CAT.N) and Pfizer (PFE.N).
The anti-border tax group is planning to host a town hall meeting next week in Nevada with Republican Senator Dean Heller, which will also be co-sponsored by local business groups and Americans For Prosperity, the conservative group funded by the Republican Koch brothers which also opposes the border tax.
Town hall meetings have gained more attention recently as events featuring Republican lawmakers have been targeted by activists to voice their opposition to several proposals, including repealing the Affordable Care Act which widened health insurance coverage for about 20 million Americans.
Additionally, the anti-tax group will hold a discussion in Ohio with Republican Representative David Joyce, where he will hear from local furniture store owners who would be affected by a border tax, Baca said.
Concurrently, members of the Retail Industry Leaders Association, which is comprised of large retailers like Autozone (AZO.N) , Walgreens Boot Alliance, Inc. (WBA.O) and J.C. Penny Company, are using the recess to give members of Congress behind-the-scenes tours of both their headquarters and stores in an effort to persuade them against the tax, spokesman Brian Dodge said.
Both groups are hoping to make more voters aware of their position and are armed with an opinion poll by a pollster who also works for several Republican members of Congress.
The poll, shared first with Reuters and which was conducted with funding from opponents of the tax, found 63 percent of voters are against the tax, including 70 percent of women.
Additionally, the poll makes the case that 56 percent of voters say they would be less likely to vote for a member of Congress who supports the tax proposal.
(Reporting by Ginger Gibson)