Politics & Government

Conservative group to use JFK to lobby Dems to support Trump tax plan

President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., speak to members of the media in the Rose Garden of the White House, Monday, Oct. 16, 2017.
President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., speak to members of the media in the Rose Garden of the White House, Monday, Oct. 16, 2017. AP

A conservative group is launching a six-figure television ad buy targeting Democratic senators in three states that President Donald Trump won, pressing them to embrace a Republican-led push for a tax overhaul.

The ad buy from the Job Creators Network is the latest in what the group says will be a multi-million dollar campaign aimed at boosting GOP tax reform efforts.

The 30-second spots will start airing Tuesday in West Virginia, Montana and North Dakota. They feature former President John F. Kennedy advocating for tax cuts as a means to boost the economy.

Worried about a tight margin in the Republican-led Senate and leadership’s inability to deliver on campaign promises, the White House and its allies have been targeting vulnerable Senate Democrats to back the administration’s tax agenda.

The three targeted Democrats are all up for re-election in states that Trump won handily, and two of them, Sens. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Manchin of West Virginia declined to sign a Senate Democratic caucus letter to Trump and congressional leaders detailing what Democrats say is not acceptable in a tax plan, notably a tax cut for the top 1 percent of Americans. The third, Sen. Jon Tester of Montana, has written to Trump, inviting him to Montana to talk taxes, but has warned against adding to the debt.

President John F. Kennedy advocated for an income tax cut in this newsreel from August 1962 ahead of outlining his plan before Congress in January 1963. In 2017, a conservative group used part of Kennedy speaking about the tax cuts in a 30-second

Heitkamp last month traveled with Trump aboard Air Force One as he stumped for his tax plan in North Dakota, but she’s stopped short of endorsing the administration’s plan.

The ads, which will run in Washington, D.C. as well, will air for a week and are part of a larger pro-tax reform campaign that includes an online site for a tax relief petition.

“‬Tax cuts have a long and proud history in the U.S. — leading to periods of strong economic growth and accelerated job creation,” said Alfredo Ortiz, president of the group, which is aligned with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. “The results of tax cuts under President Bush, President Reagan, and the legislation pushed by President Kennedy demonstrated this relationship.”

Kennedy was a strong tax cut advocate, and his plan was moving ahead in Congress. Just days after Kennedy was assassinated in November, 1963, President Lyndon Johnson urged Congress to push ahead with the Kennedy plan. The tax cut was enacted in February, 1964.

The job creator group’s goal is to have “significant” tax relief legislation passed by the end of the year, but Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., suggested Monday that the tax debate could push into next year, a potentially difficult lift during an election year.

After lunch with McConnell at the White House, Trump said he’d “very much” like to finish a tax overhaul this year, but noted it took President Ronald Reagan “years” to get a tax package passed. Reagan got his major tax cut passed in 1981, his first year, though advocates had been pushing a version of the plan long before that.

McConnell pointed out that President Barack Obama’s signature accomplishments had come in his second year in office.

“We could have a long way to go, “ Trump said. “But that's okay.”

President Donald Trump made a speech outside of the White House on Thursday before signing an executive order targeting an IRS rule that says religious organizations and other non-profits that endorse political candidates risk losing their tax-exe

Lesley Clark: 202-383-6054, @lesleyclark