Major retailers headed to the White House this morning to bend the President’s ear on tax reform – and to try to save the favorable treatment they receive for importing cheap foreign goods. CEOs from companies like Target, Best Buy, and J.C. Penney met with the President to attempt to derail the Republican tax plan that would force companies who profit off of cheap imported goods to have their foreign suppliers play on a level field with American manufacturers.
But the list of attendees is perhaps even more notable for the companies that don’t appear on it. The retail industry isn’t exactly on stable footing with President Trump. A number of major retailers including those leading the coalition against repealing the “Made in America Tax” have either pulled out or significantly scaled back their relationship with Trump-branded items:
“Nordstrom, TJ Maxx, Marshalls, Neiman Marcus, Kmart, Sears, Belk and Burlington have announced plans to eliminate or minimize their inventory of Trump-related brands.
“The stores insist these decisions were based on performance, but none shared any sales figures.”
None of the companies on that list were present at the White House today, according to NBC News. Another major absence: Walmart, whose heirs were major financial backers of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, collectively contributing $714,000.
There’s no question that the Republican tax reform plan being floated in the House would make companies like Walmart pay more for imports and create more competitive tax code that benefits American manufacturers and workers. It would also lower the corporate rate for Walmart and other retailers. A study by the Economic Policy Institute estimates that Walmart’s reliance on Chinese goods has cost the United States more than 400,000 jobs. With that number in mind, the “border adjustment” provision of the Republican tax plan would incentivize companies to keep manufacturing jobs here at home rather than sending American jobs overseas.
Major retailers who rely on cheap imports are clearly panicked about the possibility that they will have to pay more for cheap imports – but their unprovoked antagonizing Trump is probably not going to get them very far as they attempt to spike the Republican tax plan.