Three different conservative groups targeted three different markets to get their points across about how they feel about “overhaul” plans. They are completely against a new tax on imports.
First, a conservative group used colorful flow charts to warn millennials about the proposed “border adjustment” tax. They informed the millennial generation that the tax proposed by Speaker Paul D. Ryan would cause an increase in the prices of the:
“Jose Cuervo tequila that’s in your happy hour margarita.”
Three days later, another conservative group began a campaign to lobby against the proposed import tax. They announced that it would lead to a $1.2 trillion tax on working Americans and seniors.
And, the very next day after that, a third conservative group spoke up to its own crowd. The group voiced its concerns that the new import tax would hit the Latino communities the hardest, in a press release.
Although they all have different target audiences, all three have one lineage in common:
All three of these conservative groups are part of one major political network. It’s overseen by billionaire conservative businessmen David H. Koch and Charles D.
Their opposition threatens yet another rupture with President Trump, some of whose advisers see the provision as a critical way to bring about tax reform while protecting American manufacturers.
The battle could not only jeopardize Mr. Trump’s second major legislative initiative, but also redefine the boundaries of conservative economic policy. Much like the failed repeal of the Affordable Care Act, the import tax is dividing conservatives, the business sector and some of the deepest-pocketed groups funding conservative politics. Along the way, it is exposing the broader ideological divide between nationalist policies embraced by Mr. Trump and the traditional small-government movement that his election ejected from the driver’s seat of Republican policy-making.
“Trump ran on a different set of economic issues than traditional conservative Republicans have,” said Stephen Moore, a fellow at the Heritage Foundation who favors the border tax on intellectual grounds, but said he had come to see it as a “poison pill” for broader tax reform.
“The baton has been passed on from Reagan to Trump,” Mr. Moore continued, “and there’s no doubt he ran on a much more populist economic message.”
The idea of a border adjustment tax has percolated among academic economists and in think tanks since the 1970s, as the United States has considered ways of harmonizing its tax code with countries that use value-added taxes. Central to the plan is a provision that would tax imports at a rate of 20 percent while exempting exports from taxation. In theory, this would buttress domestic manufacturing, make American products more competitive with foreign goods and encourage American companies to bring home cash they have been parking overseas.