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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

Scoop: Gina Haspel threatened to resign over plan to install Kash Patel as CIA deputy

CIA Director Gina Haspel. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

CIA Director Gina Haspel threatened to resign in early December after President Trump cooked up a hasty plan to install loyalist Kash Patel, a former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), as her deputy, according to three senior administration officials with direct knowledge of the matter.

Why it matters: The revelation stunned national security officials and almost blew up the leadership of the world's most powerful spy agency. Only a series of coincidences — and last minute interventions from Vice President Mike Pence and White House counsel Pat Cipollone — stopped it.

Updated 12 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus deaths reach 4,000 per day as hospitals remain in crisis mode — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden says, "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution — Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan — Widow of GOP congressman-elect who died of COVID-19 will run to fill his seat.
  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.

John Weaver, Lincoln Project co-founder, acknowledges “inappropriate” messages

John Weaver aboard John McCain's campaign plane in February 2000. Photo: Robert Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images)

John Weaver, a veteran Republican operative who co-founded the Lincoln Project, declared in a statement to Axios on Friday that he sent “inappropriate,” sexually charged messages to multiple men.

  • “To the men I made uncomfortable through my messages that I viewed as consensual mutual conversations at the time: I am truly sorry. They were inappropriate and it was because of my failings that this discomfort was brought on you,” Weaver said.
  • “The truth is that I'm gay,” he added. “And that I have a wife and two kids who I love. My inability to reconcile those two truths has led to this agonizing place.”