By Ginger Gibson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A coalition of U.S. business groups fighting President Donald Trump's trade tariffs has launched an advertisement aimed at telling voters ahead of the midterm elections that the measures are costing American businesses and consumers $1.4 billion a month.
The group says that in Michigan, a state with several competitive elections this fall, tariff costs tripled in August from a year earlier, while they more than doubled in places like Texas, Illinois and West Virginia.
Nationally, there was a 45 percent uptick in August compared with the previous August - and the organization cautions not all of the tariffs have gone into affect.
The group, which branded itself "Tariffs Hurt the Heartland," crunched tariff payment data by state and nationally and provided the findings first to Reuters.
"These tariffs are taxes on American businesses and consumers," said group spokeswoman Angela Hofmann. "They aren’t paid by other countries. They are paid here at home."
It is targeting members of Congress in the "Heartland," including Ohio, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Indiana and Tennessee. It has planned a nationwide series of town hall meetings, including an event in Pennsylvania on Thursday where it planned to present data showing the state's businesses paid $45 million more in tariffs in August than a year earlier.
The group is also launching a digital advertisement accusing Trump administration officials of downplaying the cost of tariffs while presenting a long list of items subject to new import taxes.
The business coalition hopes voters will voice opposition to the tariffs to Congress members campaigning in their home states ahead of the Nov. 6 midterm elections.
The group of more than 100 U.S. industry groups launched a coalition in September to take their fight public against billions of dollars worth of tariffs Trump has imposed in an effort to win concessions or in the belief they will create U.S. jobs.
The business coalition includes groups representing some of the nation's largest companies, including members of the National Retail Federation and the Retail Industry Leaders Association. Among groups to join are the American Petroleum Institute, which represents major oil companies like Exxon Mobil and Chevron, and the Retail Industry Leaders Association, which represents retail chains like Target and Autozone.
Trump has imposed tariffs on Chinese goods worth $250 billion and has applied tariffs on steel and on foreign aluminum, which raised import and domestic costs. He has threatened tariffs on another $276 billion in Chinese products, which would touch nearly every imported good.
(Reporting by Ginger Gibson; Editing by David Gregorio and Jonathan Oatis)