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.

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The new buyout barons

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Last month I wrote that SPACs are the new IPOs. But I may have understated it, because SPACs are also becoming the new private equity.

By the numbers: Short for "special purpose acquisition company," SPACs have raised $24 billion so far in 2020, with a loaded pipeline of upcoming offerings. U.S. buyout firms raised nearly $102 billion through the end of June — a much larger amount, but not so much larger that the two can't play on the same field.

3 hours ago - World

Macron visits Beirut promising a "new political pact" for Lebanon

Macron visits the hard-hit Gemmayzeh neighborhood. Photo: AFP via Getty Images

French President Emmanuel Macron walked through the blast-damaged streets of Beirut on Thursday, swarmed by people chanting for the fall of Lebanon's government and pleading for international aid.

Why it matters: Lebanon is at a breaking point. Its economy was collapsing and its government hardly functioning — all before a massive explosion destroyed swathes of the capital city, including its vital port.

3 hours ago - Sports

The PGA Championship is golf's first major in over a year

Photo: Gary Kellner/PGA of America via Getty Images

The 2020 PGA Championship tees off Thursday at San Francisco's TPC Harding Park, which is hosting its first-ever major.

Why it matters: It's the first major in more than a year — and the first of seven majors in the next 12 months. Though there won't be any fans in attendance, the excitement is palpable.