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AP

The House Republicans' border adjustment tax (BAT) is, finally, as good as dead. The Republican leaders in charge of tax reform have, for the first time, admitted in a joint statement that a centerpiece of the House GOP tax plan — the idea to raise some $1 trillion over 10 years by hiking taxes of imports and cutting them on exports — is politically unfeasible.

Here's the key sentence, from a statement released today by the "Big Six" lawmakers leading the tax reform process: "While we have debated the pro-growth benefits of border adjustability, we appreciate that there are many unknowns associated with it and have decided to set this policy aside in order to advance tax reform."

Why this matters: Conservative lawmakers and outside groups like the Koch network needed to hear that BAT was dead before they agree to put their full political and financial weight behind tax reform over the summer.

But, as for the rest of the joint statement, it's a total letdown and reveals the scope of disagreements still remaining between House Speaker Paul Ryan, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady.

The tax "statement" is a series of platitudes, extremely light on specifics. It commits to lower taxes, but, unlike the plan Trump released in April, it doesn't offer specific tax rates. The statement is also silent on how to pay for the tax cuts, though it does suggest that the group wants the tax reform not to add to the deficit, by saying it places a "priority on permanence." (Many conservatives argue the President should just cut taxes without worrying about blowing out the budget deficit in the short term.)

The most substantive paragraph: "The goal is a plan that reduces tax rates as much as possible, allows unprecedented capital expensing, places a priority on permanence, and creates a system that encourages American companies to bring back jobs and profits trapped overseas. And we are now confident that, without transitioning to a new domestic consumption-based tax system, there is a viable approach for ensuring a level playing field between American and foreign companies and workers, while protecting American jobs and the U.S. tax base."

A source close to leadership texts his reaction to the joint statement (summing up the sentiment I've heard from several prominent tax lobbyists in Washington): "That tax statement is amazing. Other than BAT funeral, it has less substance than the April document...This town spent literally 24 hours get[ting] lathered up over this s---."

Go deeper

Oklahoma Supreme Court temporarily blocks abortion restrictions

A pro-choice activist demonstrates outside the U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 4, 2021. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Oklahoma Supreme Court on Monday temporarily blocked three abortion restrictions set to take effect on Nov. 1.

Why it matters: The laws would place new limits on medication-induced abortions and require doctors who perform abortions to attain board certification in obstetrics and gynecology.

U.S. freezes aid to Sudan over military coup

Protesting the coup in Khartoum. Photo: AFP via Getty

The Biden administration has frozen a $700 million aid package to Sudan after a military coup on Monday threatened to end the country's transition toward democracy.

Driving the news: At least three protesters have been killed and dozens wounded in the chaotic scenes that followed the announcements from Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the head of Sudan's ruling council, dissolving the government and declaring a state of emergency.

49 mins ago - Science

Blue Origin announces plan to develop commercial space station

Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin on Monday unveiled plans to develop a commercial space station called "Orbital Reef."

Why it matters: The private space station, which will be nearly as large as the International Space Station, would be the first of its kind and comes amid growing interest in the private space industry.