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J. Scott Applewhite / AP

Conservative House Republicans, after spending eight years threatening to shut down the government over deficits, are flirting with an idea sure to increase the national debt.

We hear a growing number of the most conservative lawmakers are seduced by the idea of cutting taxes for corporations and individuals — but without paying for it with a tax hike, like Speaker Ryan's trillion-dollar border adjustment plan.

Who lit the fire: Stephen Moore, the Heritage economist and top economic advisor on Trump's campaign, pushed the idea recently to conservative Republicans behind closed doors in New York. Moore argued they should take the short-term hit on higher deficits — and bet economic growth will erase them, with time.

Who's for it: Some conservatives — including a notable number of the hardline Freedom Caucus, and some (but not most) of a larger conservative caucus, the Republican Study Committee — are embracing the idea as the only sure way to nail a massive tax overhaul while they have the chance. Influential conservative groups like Heritage and the Club for Growth will back them. Club President David Macintosh describes revenue neutrality as a "red herring" argument made by Republicans who refuse to shrink government.

Who's against it: We're told that Speaker Ryan and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy are sticking with their insistence that rate cuts have to be offset with the border-adjustment tax, which would hurt retailers by making imports more expensive.

Where's Trump? The president loved to leverage debt as a businessman, and has no plans to cut entitlement spending. He remains skeptical about the border-adjustment tax, so we could easily see him backing Moore on this one. Expect a collision with his budget director, Mick Mulvaney.

Go deeper

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Kellyanne Conway's parting power pointers

Kellyanne Conway addresses the 2020 Republican National Convention. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

Kellyanne Conway has seen power exercised as a pollster, campaign manager and senior counselor to President Trump. Now that his term in office has concluded, she shared her thoughts with Axios.

Why it matters: If there's a currency in this town, it's power, so we've asked several former Washington power brokers to share their best advice as a new administration and new Congress settle in.

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

GOP holdouts press on with plans to crush Cheney

Screenshot of emails to a member of Congress from individuals who signed an Americans for Limited Government petition against Rep. Liz Cheney. Photo obtained by Axios

Pro-Trump holdouts in the House are forging ahead with an uphill campaign to oust Rep. Liz Cheney as head of the chamber's Republican caucus even though Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy told them to back down.

Why it matters: What happens next will be a test of McCarthy's party control and the sincerity of his opposition to the movement. Cheney (R-Wyo.) is seen as a potential leadership rival to the California Republican.

Democrats aim to punish House GOP for Capitol riot

Speaker Nancy Pelosi passes through a newly installed metal detector at the House floor entrance Thursday. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

House Democrats plan to take advantage of corporate efforts to cut funding for Republicans who opposed certifying the 2020 election results, with a plan to target vulnerable members in the pivotal 2022 midterms for their role in the Jan. 6 violence.

Why it matters: It's unclear whether the Democrats' strategy will manifest itself in ads or earned media in the targeted races or just be a stunt to raise money for themselves. But the Capitol violence will be central to the party's messaging as it seeks to maintain its narrow majorities in Congress.