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At Koch Seminar, Members Applaud Tax Reform Efforts as Paul Ryan Heaps Praise On Them
One month later, both conservative donors and politicians are still celebrating the historic passage of tax reform.
As the 550 members attending the Koch seminar convened in a hotel ballroom in Indian Wells, California Sunday—part of the Koch network’s annual winter retreat—Tim Phillips, the head of Americans for Prosperity, the network’s political behemoth, asked the members to give themselves a round of applause for the passage of the bill, which President Trump signed into law at the end of last year. They promptly complied.
“We saw a narrow window between Labor Day and Christmas in which to get tax reform done, said Phillips. “After the healthcare failure and other challenges, there was real doubt as to whether it could be done. But as a network we were going…all in. We made it our top priority.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan, identified by Phillips as a “longtime ally of the network” then appeared via video message. After apologizing for being unable to appear in person, Ryan thanked the Koch network for their help in facilitating his legislative victories. “Your network has been instrumental in allowing us to reach so many milestones, that have long been talked about but until this past year has never been achieved,” he said. “And because of your help, we have been able to take the ball and run with it, putting in place policies that help American workers, businesses and families. Just take tax reform.” He continued on to state that he wants to spend 2018 advocating for a reform of the welfare and criminal justice systems, the latter of which has also been a major point of discussion this weekend. (Shortly before the seminar, the network launched Safe Streets and Second Chances, a public-private partnership program designed to reduce recidivism by focusing on personalized reentry programs for prisoners.
The tax reform bill has repeatedly been touted a major source of pride for the network at the seminar this weekend, the theme of which is “Breaking Barriers: Because Free People are Capable of Extraordinary Things.” Phillips said that tax reform would be key to reducing economic inequity in the country.
The network has already spent $20 million in helping enact the bill, and officials announced they would spend another $20 million to help promote it. “It’s not enough to do the right thing we have to make sure Americans understand it,” Phillips explained Sunday, noting that most of the funds would go towards ensuring Americans connect the economic benefits they are receiving with the passage of the tax bill.
In the lead-up to the passage of the bill, however, some donors were openly expressing frustration with Congress for failing to pass tax reform, threatening to close their wallets to politicians unless something was passed, although much of the frustration lay with the Senate rather than the House of Representatives.