Politics & Government

Conservatives look to tout GOP tax plan and hit Trump state Democrats

Vice President Mike Pence speaks at an America First Policies "Tax Cuts to Put America First" event earlier this month.
Vice President Mike Pence speaks at an America First Policies "Tax Cuts to Put America First" event earlier this month. AP

A major conservative group with ties to the billionaire Koch brothers is boosting its efforts to sell the Republican tax plan and target vulnerable Senate Democrats for opposing the tax cuts.

Americans for Prosperity, together with its grassroots partners, has committed to spending up to $20 million in 2017 and 2018 to tout the tax law. They are launching a campaign it calls “American Pay Raise,” with a six-figure digital ad campaign that thanks Republicans and criticizes Democrats who voted against the tax plan the GOP passed in December.

The ads will begin running next week and will run through Tax Day, April 17. Among those targeted: Sens. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., Claire McCaskill, D-Mo. and Bob Casey, D-Pa., all of whom voted against the tax bill and are up for re-election in November in states that President Donald Trump won.

The ads accuse the lawmakers of voting against “putting more money in your pocket.”

All Senate Democrats voted against the measure in December, arguing it added more than $1 trillion to the federal deficit and was skewed more to the wealthy than the working class. Republicans argue that the tax cut has helped the economy as many businesses are now offering bonuses and raises to their employees.

President Trump on Friday signed the sweeping Republican tax bill into law and claimed that ObamaCare is "essentially over."

The Koch group has also launched AmericanPayRaise.com, which includes an interactive map showing what businesses across the country are doing with the tax breaks.

“After eight years of a lackluster economy, we are witnessing a new era of growth in which Americans from every walk of life are finding more money in their pockets to save or spend on things they care about most, all thanks to tax reform,” said Americans for Prosperity president Tim Phillips. “Higher take-home pay, more business investments at home and better worker benefits are all part of the great American Pay Raise.”

The American Pay Raise will also feature a call for lawmakers to make permanent all the tax cuts that are due to expire in 2025 and to oppose new taxes.

Those include hiking the federal gas tax by 25 cents, a proposal that Trump reportedly has endorsed. Anti-tax groups oppose the idea, but some Republicans and Democrats have championed it as a way of providing more federal money for rebuilding U.S. roads and bridges.

AFP, which made tax reform a top federal priority in 2017, in January announced that, together with its grassroots partners, it would keep promoting the tax reform bill. AFP says its effort will include grassroots engagement and digital activism. Its state chapters have hosted tax reform education events across the country, and plans town halls and rallies in 36 states.

An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified Tax Day as April 15. While that is the usual deadline for filing tax returns, it falls on a Sunday this year, and Monday is Emancipation Day in the District of Columbia and Patriots Day in Massachusetts.

Lesley Clark: 202-383-6054, @lesleyclark