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

Doomsday has arrived for tens of thousands of workers

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Federal coronavirus aid for airlines expires on Thursday with no renewal in sight, meaning massive layoffs for the industry aren't far behind.

The big picture: Airline workers aren't alone on the unemployment line. Oil companies, tire manufacturers, book publishers and insurers are among those that have announced tens of thousands of layoffs. Federal aid through the CARES Act earlier this year delayed most layoffs — until now.

3 hours ago - Science

How the brain handles the unknown

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Uncertainty can be hard for humans. It drives anxiety, an emotion neuroscientists are trying to understand and psychologists are trying to better treat.

Why it matters: Under the threat of a virus, job insecurity, election uncertainty, and a general pandemic life-in-limbo that is upending school, holidays and more, people are especially anxious.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 p.m. ET: 34,103,279 — Total deaths: 1,016,167 — Total recoveries: 23,694,869Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3 p.m. ET: 7,255,546 — Total deaths: 207,374 — Total recoveries: 2,840,688 — Total tests: 103,939,667Map.
  3. Politics: House prepares to pass revised COVID relief bill as White House talks hit roadblock.
  4. Health: Health officials urge flu shots, warning of "twindemic" with COVID-19 — Coronavirus infections rise in 25 states.
  5. Business: Remdesivir is good business for Gilead.