Retail industry executives met with President Donald Trump at the White House on Wednesday to push back against a proposal from congressional Republicans that would raise taxes on imports.
The companies' goal was to drive home the role that retail has played in fostering job growth during the nation's long economic recovery — and the potential damage that could be inflicted if their costs increase under any overhaul of the tax code.
They also planned to bring up the importance of infrastructure investment and regulatory reform. The chief executives who attended include the leadership of AutoZone, Tractor Supply, Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores, Target, Best Buy, Gap and JCPenney.
"This is a plan that we think is risky and unproven," said David French, senior vice president of government relations at the National Retail Federation, the industry's main trade group. "We would urge them to reconsider this approach."
The executives were set to meet with lawmakers on Capitol Hill later Wednesday.
The plan crafted by House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., would allow companies to deduct the cost of goods that are exported. Importers, however, would not receive the same benefit — effectively imposing a tax on their products. The "border adjustment" proposal is estimated to raise about $1 trillion in tax revenue that would help pay for lowering the corporate tax rate to 20 percent, though most estimates indicate that it would not cover all the revenue lost from a lower corporate rate.
Retailers have been leading the charge from the business community against the proposal, organizing a group called Americans for Affordable Products. The executives are slated to meet later with Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, who heads the powerful Ways and Means committee tasked with turning the tax plan into legislation.
"We have been racing to make sure that we're heard before they start writing this bill," French said.