In a potential boost for President Donald Trump’s largely stagnant tax reform effort, the Koch brothers’ advocacy operation is planning to spend millions of dollars advocating for changes to the tax code that mirror the ones proposed by the White House.
The two leading groups in the conservative advocacy operation spearheaded by the billionaire megadonors Charles and David Koch on Thursday unveiled an outline of tax reforms and announced that they intend to launch a robust campaign to rally public support for the blueprint.
The campaign is notable because the Kochs expressed deep reservations about Trump during the campaign, and their deep-pocketed network declined to support Trump, but it has a history of mounting aggressive congressional issue advocacy pushes.
The Kochs’ tax reform push is being funded by the Koch-backed nonprofit groups Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce and Americans for Prosperity, and it will include digital advertising, direct mail and grass-roots mobilization, according to James Davis, a spokesman for Freedom Partners. He wouldn’t put a precise price tag on the campaign, but said would be a "multi-million-dollar effort" and will run through the fall in targeted congressional districts, and could eventually expand to include television advertising.
Davis also wouldn’t say whether the advocacy would expressly urge support for Trump’s tax plan. But even ads that signal support for the president’s plan without naming him could offer a rare bit of good news for a president who lacks a robust independent nonprofit supporting him and who is increasingly under siege for his alleged meddling in the FBI’s Russia investigation.
“We’ve been trying to work with Congress as well as the administration to push forward on comprehensive tax reform that will benefit the American people,” Davis said. “This plan aligns pretty well with what the White House has put out so far on comprehensive tax reform.”
The plan echoes the Trump administration’s call for reducing business taxes — though it does not specify by how much — and moving to a so-called territorial system, where the government would no longer try to tax companies’ overseas earnings. It also proposes lower taxes on investments, eliminating the alternative minimum tax and ending the estate tax.
It does not include plans to create a so-called border-adjustment business tax pushed by House Speaker Paul Ryan. Freedom Partners recently issued a report critiquing the proposal, and Davis said, “It has no viability in getting through the Senate.”
Americans for Prosperity has been urging Republicans to oppose the border-adjustment plan, warning in an online ad that it would translate into higher prices on everything from gas to toys for consumers.
Levi Russell, a spokesman for Americans for Prosperity, called the Koch blueprint “tax reform that is fairer, flatter and simpler.” He said “it’s going to take vision to get that done, and we’re prepared to put in the work and resources to make it happen.”