Nov 2, 2020

Axios AM

🗳️ Two easy ways to follow the epic hours ahead:

Situational awareness: Prince William had COVID this spring, kept it secret. (BBC) ... Justice Amy Coney Barrett will hear her first arguments today. ... "Fire Fauci!" was a new chant at a Trump rally in Florida. The president hinted he might after the election.

  • Today's Smart Brevity™ count: 1,279 words ... 5 minutes.
1 big thing: Wealthy rush to shield assets from Biden

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

High-net-worth Americans are setting up trust funds, giving large gifts to heirs and philanthropies, and even selling family businesses as they brace for the tax hikes a Joe Biden presidency might bring, Axios' Jennifer A. Kingson and Hans Nichols report.

  • Why it matters: President Trump has jacked up the amount that people can leave tax-free to their heirs to record highs. If Biden wins, his tax shakeup would have ripple effects on how the wealthy buy and sell properties, allocate savings and investments, and give to charity.

Family business owners who have been flirting with selling their companies are making a big rush to the exits:

  • It takes months to close such a deal — and waiting until next year could mean paying 40% in taxes on the transaction vs. 20% this year, Joe Maier, an estate-planning attorney in Racine, Wis., tells Axios.
  • Buyers are lowballing their bids — knowing that a seller could be grateful for a 10% smaller offer as long as the deal closes in 2020.

Biden says he wants to raise taxes on people who earn more than $400,000 a year — which excludes most Americans — and lower the amounts people can give tax-free to their spouses and heirs.

  • He also wants to tax capital gains and dividends at 39.6% for people making over $1 million.
  • The goal is to raise revenue for federal coffers while targeting a segment of society that can best afford it (and for whom few people feel sorry).

How it works: Biden proposes to cut in half the unusually generous cap of about $23 million that a couple can leave to heirs tax-free. This means gift and estate taxes, which can climb to 40%, would kick in at much lower dollar amounts.

  • If Biden wins, tax professionals expect an even greater stampede of customers who want to make gifts, set up trusts and establish philanthropic vehicles called donor-advised funds (DAFs) — all before Dec. 31.

Reality check: "Just 1.9 percent of taxpayers would see a direct tax hike" if Biden’s tax proposals for individuals were in effect in 2022, the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) estimates.

  • Many of Biden's proposals would simply attempt to roll tax laws back to where they were when President Obama left office.

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2. Decades-long blue tide
Reproduced from Center for American Progress. Chart: Axios Visuals

Young voters, projected to turn out overwhelmingly for Joe Biden, could provide a huge advantage for Democrats not just this in this election but for decades to come, Axios' Stef Kight and executive editor Sara Kehaulani Goo write.

Pollsters and political scientists are poring over new reports by the Harvard Institute of Politics and the liberal Center for American Progress that examine the growing enthusiasm among the nation's youngest voters.

  • The Harvard poll finds that 63% of 18- to 29-year olds "definitely" plan to vote. Their enthusiasm for Biden grew even stronger since September.
  • The CAP models forecast a huge advantage for Democrats in future elections, based on demographics and voting patterns of today’s youngest generations — even taking account of trends that show that Americans tend to become more conservative as they age.
  • Electoral College models, which factor in changing state demographics of these young voters, look even more ominous for Republicans.

Millennials and Generation Z are much more liberal than their predecessors, and voted for Democrats in previous election cycles. Voting research shows that the president you vote for as you come of age to vote often determines which party you'll stick with, too.

  • Millennial (born 1981 to 1996) and Generation Z (born 1997 onward) voters combined are estimated to represent 37% of eligible voters this year — larger than Baby Boomers (28%) and Generation X (24%).
  • By 2036, those two generations will make up 60% of the electorate.

Reality check: The election-upending impact of younger voters has been predicted for decades and has yet to come to pass.

  • The unknown is whether Democrats — in particular Biden and vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris — will continue to engage these youngest voters.

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3. Inside America: COVID strains police
A homicide investigation in Milwaukee in July. Photo: Mike De Sisti/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

"The Milwaukee Police Department has recorded 162 homicides so far this year, with the city close to surpassing the highest total ever recorded of 165 in 1991, a time when the crack epidemic raged and serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer was active," the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports (subscription).

  • "That amounts to one homicide in the city every 45 hours in 2020."

The big picture: It's not just the health care system. The pandemic is also straining police.

  • "Other cities, from Oakland to Louisville to New York City, have seen similar spikes."
4. Tales from the trail: Final weekend
Photo: Andrew Harnik/AP

Joe Biden voters hold up fans during a "Souls to the Polls" drive-in rally he addressed yesterday in the parking lot of Sharon Baptist Church in Philadelphia.

Photo: Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

Trump fans blocked traffic yesterday on the former Tappan Zee Bridge, now the Gov. Mario M. Cuomo Bridge, in Tarrytown, N.Y. (Details.)

Photo: Hannah McKay/Reuters

Supporters throng President Trump's rally at Hickory Regional Airport in Hickory, N.C. — one of five he held yesterday.

Photo: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

America, 2020: Political signs line Franklin Street in Portland, Maine, yesterday.

5. Morning Consult's state-by-state presidential tracking

This is a great Morning Consult graphic of final results for: "If the November 2020 presidential election were being held today, for whom would you vote?"

Graphic: Morning Consult

Explore the data.

6. Big Tech's 2021

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The headaches facing the tech industry's giants won't change much whether President Trump remains in the White House or Joe Biden takes his place, Axios managing editor Scott Rosenberg writes from the Bay Area.

  • The market: Business traditionally fears interest rates and inflation will rise under freer-spending Democratic administrations. But Trump's deficit-friendly term scrambled those expectations. Inflation is nowhere in sight. Whoever wins, the Fed will keep refilling tech's punch bowl.
  • Regulation: Democrats have their own reasons for pursuing action against the big companies — but, unlike Republicans, they're less focused on claims of censorship and more on the concentration of corporate power.
  • Moderation and privacy: Democrats have typically been readier than Republicans to favor stricter privacy rules. But a Democratic administration would have a long list of priorities ahead of such action.

Keep reading.

7. "Harder Line": Biden's climate limits

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Joe Biden would likely pursue the most aggressive climate plan in history, but his campaign aspirations are far higher than what political reality allows, Axios' Amy Harder writes in her "Harder Line" column.

  • Its centerpieces, including $2 trillion in spending over four years and a goal of making the electricity grid carbon-free in 15 years, will probably need congressional legislation.
  • It's not clear that Democrats would succeed in getting rid of the filibuster, and Biden hasn't committed to supporting the change.

Go deeper.

8. Trump's stock market
Data: Yahoo Finance; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

President Trump has presided over a stock market surge since taking office in 2017, but he's been outpaced by three of his four predecessors, Axios' Dan Primack and Andrew Witherspoon report.

9. Court's election drift

The Supreme Court has tried to tread lightly so far in election-related cases, though that could change after Election Day, Axios' Stef Kight reports.

  • In its pre-election rulings, the court has largely preserved the status quo. But in the details and nuances of those decisions, it may have laid a foundation for a more conservative approach in its next wave of election cases.

Read more.

10. 🎵 1 song to go: "Bad Cinderella"
Via Apple Music

Andrew Lloyd Webber, 72, is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the release of his "Jesus Christ Superstar" album with the first single from his new musical, "Cinderella," AP's Mark Kennedy reports.

  • The rollicking "Bad Cinderella" is sung by Carrie Hope Fletcher, the title character in what Webber calls a "complete reinvention" of the fairytale.
  • Before the pandemic, the cast was to start rehearsals last spring in London.

The single is a portrait of a fearsome woman standing apart from society's rules:

  • "They call me a wretch / A witch / Well, choose one," the heroine sings.
  • "Every fairytale for sure can use one / Sorry I'm so rude / Sorry you're so lame / I won't play your game."

Hear the hook. (It's very Andrew Lloyd Webber!)

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