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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

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
1 hour ago - Economy & Business

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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

When Mailchimp recently agreed to be acquired by Intuit for $12 billion, we noted how it was the richest sale ever of a private bootstrapped company. Now we know more about why the Atlanta-based email marketing company never took outside funding.

The big picture: Mailchimp founder and CEO Ben Chestnut tells Axios that it was all about timing.

"Noticias Telemundo" names Julio Vaqueiro as new anchor

Julio Vaqueiro. Photo: Noticias Telemundo

Emmy award-winning journalist Julio Vaqueiro will become the new anchor of "Noticias Telemundo," the network's daily Spanish-language evening newscast, Noticias Telemundo announced Thursday.

The big picture: Vaqueiro replaces José Díaz-Balart, who is returning to MSNBC later this month to host a new show as NBC seeks to add more diverse voices to its English-language news programs.

Al Gore's Climate TRACE finds vast undercounts of emissions

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A high-tech independent effort to track greenhouse gas emissions from every country, industrial facility and power plant announced its first results on Monday.

Why it matters: Climate TRACE utilizes satellite data, machine learning and artificial intelligence to determine greenhouse gas emissions globally. It aims usher in an era of "radical transparency" and a more enforceable climate agreement by giving nonprofits, governments and the UN actionable intelligence to track and crack down on polluters.