Feb 19, 2017

Republicans might stop sweating the debt

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

How to understand the scale of American job decimation

Data: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics via St. Louis Fed; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Sentence from a nightmare: 6.6 million Americans filed for unemployment last week, a decline from the previous week's 6.9 million.

The big picture: Over the past three weeks, 1 in 10 working-age adults filed for unemployment, Axios' Courtenay Brown notes.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 4:30 p.m. ET: 1,579,690 — Total deaths: 94,567 — Total recoveries: 346,780Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 4:30 p.m. ET: 452,582 — Total deaths: 16,129 — Total recoveries: 24,790Map.
  3. Public health latest: U.S. has expelled thousands of migrants under coronavirus public health orderDr. Anthony Fauci said social distancing could reduce the U.S. death toll to 60,000.
  4. Business latest: The Fed will lend up to $2.3 trillion for businesses, state and city governments — Another 6.6 million jobless claims were filed last week.
  5. World latest: Boris Johnson is moved out of ICU but remains in hospital with coronavirus.
  6. In Congress: Senate in stalemate over additional funding for small business relief program.
  7. What should I do? Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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Biden rolls out new policies in effort to court Sanders supporters

Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

The Biden campaign announced two new policies on Thursday on health care and student debt that are squarely aimed at appealing to supporters of Bernie Sanders, who ended his campaign for the Democratic nomination on Wednesday.

Why it matters: The policies don't go as far as Sanders' platform, but they signal that Biden is serious about incorporating elements of his former rival's agenda in an effort to help unify the Democratic Party and defeat President Trump in the general election.