TOPEKA — A new nonprofit advocacy group concerned about Republicans’ efforts to reform the tax code will launch a TV ad urging U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins to oppose it, its spokesman said Wednesday.
Citizens for Responsible Tax Reform launched print ads last month targeting Republicans in 20 states, according to Roll Call. The group’s spokesman, Blake Gober, said it launched last month as a 501(c)(4) organization. He said Jenkins is the only Kansas House member currently targeted by an ad.
The group — established with donations from Texas billionaires John and Laura Arnold — takes issue with increases to the national debt projected under the Republicans’ plan. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated last week the Republican tax plan would boost deficits by $1.7 trillion in 10 years. Citizens for Responsible Tax Reform created the ad to remind people about Jenkins’ interest in controlling the national debt, Gober said. It quotes a previous concern Jenkins had about deficit-raising spending.
“Rep. Jenkins has spent the vast majority of her career talking about the need for protecting the deficit, protecting America’s future from the debt, taking care of the debt and deficit,” Gober said.
Jenkins’ spokesman, Michael Byerly, brushed off the ad.
“Congresswoman Jenkins is unconcerned what a Texas billionaire, who made his money trading gas at Enron, has to say on this issue, no matter what name he hides behind or how much money he spends on advertising,” Byerly said in an email.
Jenkins and other House Republicans had called for a revenue-neutral tax plan. She voted against the budget framework that will smooth the path to a tax reform vote because it didn’t make enough cuts to spending, but she has been a strong proponent of the Republican plan.
“(Jenkins) was tired of kicking the fiscal can down the road and wanted to enact reforms to get our spending on the right fiscal track,” Byerly said. “She supports the tax reform legislation because it will help create jobs and provide tax cuts for hardworking individuals and families in Kansas.”
Republicans have claimed their tax plan will spur the economy to grow more quickly, making up for the lost federal revenue.
“Tax reform and the economic growth it will spark is an important step toward solving our nation’s balanced budget equation,” Byerly said. “However, as she said when she opposed the budget deal, she believes additional spending reforms are critical to help our economy grow.”
Gober called claims the plan could boost growth rates to 4 percent “pie in the sky.”
Jenkins repeatedly has defended the Republican proposal against comparisons to mostly repealed Kansas income tax cuts championed by Gov. Sam Brownback. She took to Twitter Wednesday to dispute a Kansas City Star guest column comparing the two plans.
Like the Kansas plan, the federal plan cuts individual income tax rates, reduces the number of tax brackets and cuts taxes on pass-through income, like that funneled through LLCs. The federal plan reduces those taxes and places “safeguards” against tax avoidance, but Kansas eliminated them. Congressional Republicans’ plan also eliminates some income tax exemptions, reduces corporate income tax rates, increases the standard deduction and expands tax credits for child care.
The Arnolds provided the large initial donations when Citizens for Responsible Tax Reform launched last month, Gober said. Now, the group has support from across the political spectrum. Gober said the group doesn’t intend to stick around, but rather disband once “responsible” tax reform is achieved.
“However, we will be around as long as it takes to ensure this passes responsibly,” Gober said.