- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 13, 2017

Freedom Partners, a pro-free market advocacy group affiliated with the industrialist Koch brothers, is launching a series of digital ads on Thursday intended to pressure members of the House Ways and Means Committee to drop a controversial tax on imports from the GOP’s broader tax reform efforts.

The digital ads target close to two dozen Republican panel members, including Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas, the committee chairman, and Rep. Peter Roskam of Illinois, who chairs a tax policy subcommittee, and will run in the members’ home districts.

“The [tax] is bad policy, it’s dead-on-arrival in the Senate, and it’s undermining efforts to unify Americans behind a positive vision for bold tax reform,” said Freedom Partners spokesman Bill Riggs.

The tax on imports, known as a border adjustment, is a central feature of House Republicans’ tax reform blueprint, and Mr. Brady has been one of its leading advocates.

Proponents say taxing imports, while exempting exports, would encourage manufacturing to stay in the U.S. The measure is also projected to raise about $1 trillion, which Republicans could use to pay for lowering other rates for individuals and businesses.

Opponents, though, say the tax would ultimately get passed onto consumers through higher prices on retail goods.

The new Freedom Partners campaign, part of a broader multimillion effort, will also target a handful of Democratic senators up for re-election in 2018 in states carried by President Trump. Those ads, which target senators like Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Claire McCaskill of Missouri, urge viewers to tell them to “un-rig” the economy and support tax reform.

The group also released a new letter addressed to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch warning Mr. Hatch against pursuing the border tax as part of broader tax reform efforts.

Though the Senate has been focused on health care this week, work on tax reform efforts is also proceeding in both Houses of Congress.

Mr. Roskam’s subcommittee is scheduled to hear from business executives on Thursday in a hearing on how tax reform will affect small businesses.

Mr. Hatch has also scheduled a hearing before his committee on tax reform next week and has invited top tax policy officials from the Obama, George W. Bush, and Clinton administrations to testify.

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