The ink is barely dry on the House GOP’s tax bill, but deep-pocketed outside groups on both sides are already flooding the airwaves in an attempt to define the conversation and shape the public’s view as Congress begins to vote.
Conservative backers of the tax package are eager to tie it to President Trump, saying his supporters need to rally to him. Liberal opponents, meanwhile, are pointing to history in saying a tax overhaul will leave the federal budget a mess.
The price tag is likely to balloon in the coming weeks, but already more than $30 million has been pledged — most of it from backers of the tax bill.
America First Policies, a pro-Trump group pledging to spend $1 million in defense of tax cuts, has cut an ad using Corey Lewandowski, President Trump’s former campaign manager, who urges “patriots and friends” to get behind the effort.
“Friends, the special interests will do anything to stop us. We can’t let them,” Mr. Lewandowki says in the ad.
The 45Committee, another top pro-Trump outside group, announced recently it plans to spend at least $10 million in support of tax reform.
Its opening 30-second TV ad, to air nationally, echoes GOP congressional leaders’ talking points about the plan, such as a projected $1,200 tax cut for an average family and an expanded standard deduction.
“More money in your pocket. A stronger economy. That’s what’s in it for you,” the ad says. “Tell Congress to cut taxes now.”
The group will likely have plenty of money to spend on the effort, as it’s gotten backing in the past from billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and the Ricketts family, which owns the Chicago Cubs.
Pro-Trump groups are also being joined by pro-congressional Republican outfits.
American Action Network, a conservative advocacy group friendly to House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, announced a $1 million radio ad campaign touting the benefits of tax reform aimed at 49 GOP-held House districts, and said more is on the way.
“American Action Network is committed to securing the tax relief America’s middle-class families deserve, and pledges to spend at least $22 million to ensure pro-growth tax reform becomes a reality,” said executive director Corry Bliss.
Targets include members of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee and supporters of the plan, but also some members who have expressed reservations like New York Reps. Peter T. King and Lee M. Zeldin.
“Thank congressman Lee Zeldin. He’s fighting for the middle-class tax cuts working Americans need,” the group says in one sample ad.
Though much of the new spending appears to be from groups spurring on the GOP to pass the plan, liberal groups are also trying to muster energy and resources to try to block it.
The “Not One Penny” campaign recently announced a six-figure ad buy featuring Mike Fawl, a Kansas farmer, warning against enacting tax cuts similar to the recent ones in his state that have thrown Kansas’ finances into chaos.
In the ad, Mr. Fawl says he voted for former Gov. Sam Brownback in 2010 because he was a Republican, but that the tax cuts Mr. Brownback shepherded were an “abject failure.”
“What was tried here didn’t work. I don’t know how you can expect different results,” he says.
Even groups that aren’t explicitly partisan are jumping into the fray.
The Peter G. Peterson Foundation, a fiscal watchdog group, says it’s running a six-figure ad campaign on Sunday morning shows and national cable TV to highlight the cost of the plan, currently around $1.5 trillion.
“If these tax cuts aren’t paid for, guess where the money will come from?” the ad says before cutting to images of babies, implying future generations will be on the hook for any deficit-financed tax cuts.
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