AP file photo

It's no wonder House Republicans are stuck on whether to limit the tax break for employer health coverage, as they've been discussing for their Obamacare replacement. The big problem: It's going to be hard for them to fight charges that it's a tax increase.

Republicans haven't filled in the details yet, at least publicly, but here's what happens when you try. The Congressional Budget Office did in December, and this is what it found for the most extreme scenario:

  • Deficit reduction by 2026: $426 billion.
  • People who would lose employer health coverage: 4 million.
  • Average tax break for individuals in 2026: $1,420.
  • Decrease in tax break from current law: $3,860.

You see where this is headed: Don't Tax My Health Care, a business-led lobbying coalition, is already calling that a $3,860 tax increase. There are other, more moderate options that would have smaller impacts, but it's not hard to see why the whole idea has become a political headache.

How they'll fight back: Republicans say their plan isn't going to look like the CBO scenario. They say they'd only target a small portion of the tax exclusion, which has the value of a $3.6 trillion subsidy over the next decade, and it would only affect a small group of people. And Ways and Means Committee chairman Kevin Brady has said he doesn't see it as a tax increase, because most people don't even know they get the tax break.

Go deeper

Apple's antitrust fight turns Epic

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Millions of angry gamers may soon join the chorus of voices calling for an antitrust crackdown on Apple, as the iPhone giant faces a new lawsuit and PR blitz from Epic Games, maker of mega-hit Fortnite.

Why it matters: Apple is one of several Big Tech firms accused of violating the spirit, if not the letter, of antitrust law. A high-profile lawsuit could become a roadmap for either building a case against tech titans under existing antitrust laws or writing new ones better suited to the digital economy.

Survey: Fears grow about Social Security’s future

Data: AARP survey of 1,441 U.S. adults conducted July 14–27, 2020 a ±3.4% margin of error at the 95% confidence level; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

Younger Americans are increasingly concerned that Social Security won't be enough to wholly fall back on once they retire, according to a survey conducted by AARP — in honor of today's 85th anniversary of the program — given first to Axios.

Why it matters: Young people's concerns about financial insecurity once they're on a restricted income are rising — and that generation is worried the program, which currently pays out to 65 million beneficiaries, won't be enough to sustain them.

Axios-SurveyMonkey poll: Doubts over fair election results

SurveyMonkey poll of 2,847 U.S. adults conducted Aug. 11–12, 2020 with ±3% margin of error; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

One in four Americans is worried their ballot won't be accurately counted this year, and four in 10 worry mail-in voting could yield less reliable results, according to a new Axios-SurveyMonkey poll.

The big picture: Partisan identification is a massive driver of distrust in both categories — and the stakes are huge this year.