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Photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

With the release of the Senate's plan yesterday, tax cuts are off to a stronger start than health reform's fraught debut earlier this year.

The bottom line: You've got high top rates on wealthy people, a concession to the left — yet tons of loopholes and crony tax breaks. Even Republicans who have been skeptical all year about tax reform's prospects say they see glints of momentum.

The reasons:

Sheer political panic: This may be Republicans' only chance to hold onto the House. GOP leaders, especially Speaker Ryan, are under no illusions — particularly not after the results in Virginia.Donor pressure: As members and senators have admitted out loud, donors won't be returning phone calls if united GOP government can't deliver tax reform.The Roy Moore factor: Senators were already nervous about this unpredictable, anti-establishment figure entering the Senate in the new year. His election is on Dec. 12. Now, with yesterday's molestation accusations, Republicans can foresee a scenario in which he loses to a Democrat in Alabama!The upshot: The GOP must pass tax reform before "the Roy Moore line," says a source close to leadership.Republicans understand and care far more about cutting taxes than they ever did — despite seven years of sloganeering — about overhauling Obama's Affordable Care Act.Be smart: Despite the "so far, so good" start, expensive concessions will still have to be added to bring around resistant business interests. Expect more stuffing in this bird.

Go deeper

Dave Lawler, author of World
1 hour ago - World

Oxford and AstraZeneca's vaccine won't just go to rich countries

Waiting, in New Delhi. Photo: Jewel Samad/AFP via Getty Images

While the 95% efficacy rates for the Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines are great news for the U.S. and Europe, Monday's announcement from Oxford and AstraZeneca may be far more significant for the rest of the world.

Why it matters: Oxford and AstraZeneca plan to distribute their vaccine at cost (around $3-4 per dose), and have already committed to providing over 1 billion doses to the developing world. The price tags are higher for the Pfizer ($20) and Moderna ($32-37) vaccines.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Vaccines: Key information about the effective COVID-19 vaccines — Oxford University's 90%-effective vaccine.
  2. Health: U.S. coronavirus hospitalizations keep breaking recordsWhy we're numb to 250,000 coronavirus deaths — Americans line up for testing ahead of Thanksgiving.
  3. Travel: Air travel's COVID-created future — Over 1 million U.S. travelers flew on Friday, despite calls to avoid holiday travel.
  4. World: England to impose stricter regional systemU.S. coronavirus hotspots far outpacing Europe's — Portugal to ban domestic travel for national holidays.
  5. Economy: The biggest pandemic labor market drags.
  6. Sports: Coronavirus precautions leave college basketball schedule in flux.

Biden transition names first Cabinet nominees

Biden with John Kerry. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden on Monday unveiled his nominations for top national security positions in his administration, tapping former Secretary of State John Kerry as his climate czar and former deputy national security adviser Avril Haines as director of national intelligence.

Why it matters: Haines, if confirmed, would make history as the first woman to oversee the U.S. intelligence community. Biden also plans to nominate Alejandro Mayorkas to become the first Latino secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.