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Corporate Groups Gird for Deficit Fights

Several corporate coalitions are launching efforts to persuade the White House and the Congressional super committee to protect their bottom lines in any deficit reduction package.

Executives from UPS Inc., Altria Group Inc. and Lockheed Martin Corp. today called on President Barack Obama and Congress to reduce the U.S. corporate tax rate as part of a new nonprofit group dubbed the RATE Coalition (short for Reducing America’s Taxes Equitably).

“A lower corporate rate will boost investment in the U.S., bringing more American jobs, innovation and growth,” they wrote in letters to Obama and Congressional leadership which were signed by nine other executives, the Association of American Railroads and the National Retail Federation.

Separately on Tuesday, the retail federation released information about a new effort with another employers group aimed at lobbying the administration to keep down costs of the minimum health benefits package mandated by the new health care law.

“Retailers are central to whether the health care law is a success or not,” David French, the lead lobbyist for the National Retail Federation, told reporters. The organization is also urging the Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction to delay or repeal the law’s mandate that employers to offer insurance.

“If it doesn’t work for the retail, then it needs to be pulled up by its roots,” he said.

Other members of the “essential health benefits coalition” include the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Blue Cross and Blue Shield.

Matt Shay, president and chief executive officer of the NRF, said the federation plans to spend about $10 million in the next several years on these campaigns and its other legislative priorities, including a major push for legislation that would require online retailers like and to collect sales tax like their store-front counterparts.

French argued that sales tax legislation, introduced in July by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), would be a boon for budget-strapped states, yielding as much as $250 million in additional revenue over the next decade.

“The sales tax situation is a constitutional anomaly that needs to be resolved,” French said. “We think the super committee offers a prospect to solve it in short order.”

In a Sept. 6 letter to the super committee, the NRF asked lawmakers to tackle the issue in addition to corporate tax reform and the employer mandate.

The retail federation has been making an effort to elevate its profile in the business advocacy community. In the past year, the NRF has brought on several new players including French, who led the NRF through the multimillion-dollar fight over debit card swipe fees this spring.

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