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Conservative Groups' Study Slams Proposed Border Tax

FILE - Cars exit the General Motors assembly plant in Villa de Reyes, outside San Luis Potosi, Mexico, Jan. 4, 2017. Mexico’s growing share of the auto market is a sore spot for President Donald Trump, who has threatened to impose border taxes on Mexican imports to force companies to make cars in the U.S.

Conservative activist groups that generally support Republicans but oppose a pro-export, anti-import Republican tax proposal released a study on Thursday estimating its impact on individual U.S. states, underscoring the party's division over taxes.

The two activist groups, backed by billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch, reported that seven states won by President Donald Trump in November's election would be among the 10 hardest hit by the proposal.

Freedom Partners and Americans for Prosperity, both based in the Washington area, said the "border adjustment tax," or BAT, would harm all 50 states, but that those heavily dependent on imports could suffer most.

The report predicted economic harm to Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas — all states Trump won in the 2016 presidential election. The list of hard-hit states also includes California, New Jersey and Illinois, which Democrat Hillary Clinton carried.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, a Texas Republican who intends to include the BAT in tax reform legislation this spring, sharply criticized the study.

FILE - House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas., speaks during a meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 28, 2017.
FILE - House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas., speaks during a meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 28, 2017.

'Fantasy figures'

"That so-called study will be easily discredited and probably fits the definition of fake news," Brady told reporters. "It takes one provision, pretends the economy freezes ... applies it in our current tax code and comes up with fantasy figures."

BAT, billed as a way to boost U.S. manufacturing, would exempt export revenues from federal tax, while ending the deductibility of import costs by corporations, making imports for production or resale costlier.

The plan is part of a tax reform blueprint supported by House Speaker Paul Ryan. Trump is also working on a tax plan.

The proposal is also opposed by a number of Senate Republicans who could prevent its passage, should the House approve a tax reform bill that contains it.

Koch organizations, including the brothers' privately held conglomerate, Koch Industries, have warned that BAT could devastate the U.S. economy by raising prices on consumer goods, including gasoline. Refineries owned by Koch Industries rely on oil imports from Canada.

The Koch groups say they support tax reform but oppose BAT.