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AP

White House press secretary Sean Spicer refused to rule out consideration of a carbon tax when asked about the idea at Tuesday's White House briefing:

There's a robust debate going on with respect to comprehensive tax reform … I'm not going to comment on specific prongs of that.

Why it matters: It's a bit puzzling that the White House is not flatly slamming the door, because a carbon tax has almost no buy in or political traction among influential Republicans. It's at least the second time Spicer has declined to rule it out.

  • A spokesman for Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell reaffirmed Tuesday that he has "long been an opponent of an energy tax." Groups such as Heritage Action and the Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity are strongly opposed.

Flashback: In early February Republican elders from the Bush presidencies and the Reagan era—including James Baker, Hank Paulson and George Shultz—pitched a plan to tax emissions, return the money to the public, and scuttle climate regulations.

  • In February Baker and some other backers met with senior White House officials including top economic adviser Gary Cohn and chief of staff Reince Priebus. Spicer batted aside questions about it at the time without ruling it out then either.

Go deeper

Changing the inflation conversation

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Inflation looks like it’ll run hot for longer than plenty of smart people thought it would. The conversation over just how much more Americans will have to pay for their stuff has taken on a new intensity, as supply problems show few signs of fading.

Why it matters: The rate of price growth has remained consistently strong in recent months — a time that some thought would bring cooling prices after an initial reopening spike. What goes on with prices will influence the decisions made by Congress, the Biden Administration, and the Federal Reserve.

The biggest headline from Biden's town hall

President Biden greets attendees during a commercial break in Baltimore last night. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

What matters from President Biden's town hall with CNN's Anderson Cooper at Baltimore Center Stage on Thursday, via Axios night owl Hans Nichols:

The biggest headline: Biden is jettisoning the corporate tax increases that White House officials have insisted, for the past 10 months, are wildly popular across the country. He admitted he doesn't have the votes.

Trump, your 2024 GOP nominee

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Former President Trump is telling most anyone who'll listen he will run again in 2024 — and poll after poll shows the vast majority of Republicans would gladly cheer him on and vote for him. 

Why it matters: Trump is the heart, soul and undisputed leader of the Republican Party and will easily win the nomination if he wants it, the polls make unmistakably clear.