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The great thing about the endless speculation on carbon taxes is that everyone is right. They're alive and dead at the same time, which brings us to...

The latest: The Washington Post broke a big story yesterday with a report that the White House is weighing a carbon tax and a value-added tax as officials search for revenue in wider tax code overhaul plans.

The fallout: That set off a ton of follow-up stories, but the White House quickly tried to settle things down. "As of now, neither a carbon tax nor a VAT are under consideration," deputy press secretary Lindsay Walters said Tuesday afternoon.

  • This was the second time in the last few weeks that the White House has sought to put the kibosh on the idea that a carbon tax is under serious consideration.

Our thought bubble: The odds of a carbon tax gaining political traction among Republicans are vanishingly low, and even that is probably optimistic. But...

  • The "as of now" part of the White House statement will keep hope alive for advocates until tax reform talks make substantive progress and Republicans start to coalesce around revenue-raisers. That's especially true because House Speaker Paul Ryan's border adjustment tax (BAT) plan faces gigantic hurdles.
  • "Until big dogs in the Senate and at White House lay down a marker, the chatter will continue," one fossil fuel lobbyist emailed, adding: "Once BAT is taken off the table by Ryan/Brady, then the fun really begins on tax reform. And my guess is that this swirl continues past Easter recess into early May."

Not giving up: A pro-carbon tax group led by former GOP officials including James Baker is boosting its staff.

  • Politico reports that the Climate Leadership Council has brought on David Bailey formerly of Exxon Mobil as research director and Greg Bertelsen from the National Association of Manufacturers to oversee outreach to business groups on the plan. The council's proposal would tax emissions, return the money to the public, and scuttle climate regulations.

Go deeper

Biden embarks on a consequential presidency

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Donald Trump tried everything to delegitimize the rival who vanquished him. In reality, he's set Joe Biden on course to be a far more consequential U.S. president than he might otherwise have become.

The big picture: President Biden now confronts not just a pandemic, but massive political divisions and an assault on truth — and the aftermath of the assault on the Capitol two weeks ago that threatened democracy itself.

Updated 24 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Inauguration Day dashboard

U.S. Capitol and stage are lit at sunrise ahead of the inauguration of Joe Biden. Photo: Patrick Semansky - Pool/Getty Images

President Biden has delivered his inaugural address at the Capitol, calling for an end to the politics as total war but warning that "we have far to go" to heal the country.

What's next: Representatives from all branches of the military escort the 46th president to the White House.

Inaugural address: Biden vows to be "a president for all Americans"

Moments after taking the oath of office, President Biden sought to soothe a nation riven by political divisions and a global pandemic, while warning that "we have far to go" to heal the country and defeat a "virus that silently stalks the the country."

Why it matters: From the same steps that a pro-Trump mob launched an assault on Congress two weeks earlier, the new president paid deference to the endurance of American political institutions.