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J. Scott Applewhite, Evan Vucci / AP

Steve Bannon and Paul Ryan will never be drinking buddies. And they'll probably never agree on immigration policy. But they're seeing eye-to-eye on a crucial area of policy and happy to let the world know. (Just see these stories in The Hill and Breitbart, with headlines touting their newfound accord.)

The Bannon-Ryan Common Ground: A tax reform plan. Specifically, the border adjustment plan that would raise tax imports.

Bannon has told associates he believes the evolving Ryan-Trump tax reform program "is a strong American nationalist program." Attaching Ryan's plan to the word "nationalist" is the highest praise Bannon can dole out. When he was chairman of Breitbart, Bannon viewed Ryan as a "globalist" enemy intent on undermining American sovereignty through open borders and free trade.

Why it Matters: The fact that Trump's chief strategist believes the tax plan is following nationalist principles means it has a better chance of success. Ryan is seizing the opportunity. In private meetings with Bannon and senior staff, the Speaker has described the border adjustment plan as "responsible nationalism," according to someone in the room when the Speaker said this.

Ryan and Bannon are, in a limited way, talking the same language. Ryan is making the pitch that the border adjustment policy — the key to funding Republican tax reform — would level the playing field for American jobs and American-made goods. He's using the language of Trump's populist movement.

But their unity has limits: There's no sign these two have — or will ever — come together on either trade or immigration, but tax policy is a different story. Seeing eye-to-eye on tax reform has allowed for a slight thawing in the personal relationship between Bannon and Ryan. But don't believe anyone who tells you they're becoming buddies. Says a source close to Ryan: "It's fair to say they have agreed on our tax plan and made a connection over this particular issue."

What's Next? Trump has given mixed signals on border adjustment. He trashed the idea to the Wall Street Journal last Friday. But a few days later he told us that he wasn't so opposed to it after all. It wouldn't surprise us if Trump ultimately backs the plan.

Read the Axios Facts Matter on border adjustment

Go deeper

22 mins ago - World

Two years of COVID-19

Expand chart
Data: Our World in Data; Chart: Axios Visuals

Two years ago Wednesday, the first case of a mysterious new respiratory disease was discovered in Wuhan, China. Now, the Omicron variant has deepened concerns about just how much longer the coronavirus pandemic will last.

The big picture: More than 5 million people have died since that first case. Most people on earth have lived through some form of lockdown. 54% of the global population has had at least one vaccination, though the shots have been distributed unevenly.

Updated 12 hours ago - Politics & Policy

U.S. sounds alarm on Ukraine

Conscripts line up at a Russian railway station yesterday before departing for Army service. Photo: Sergei Malgavko/TASS via Getty Images

The Biden administration is "deeply concerned" by new intelligence — detailed for Axios and other outlets — showing Russia stepping up preparations to invade Ukraine as soon as early 2022.

Why it matters: Most of this was known from public sources and satellite imagery, but the administration is sending a stronger signal by releasing specific details from the intelligence community.

14 hours ago - Economy & Business

CNN fires Chris Cuomo

Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for CNN

CNN said Saturday evening it has fired one of its star anchors, Chris Cuomo, following new revelations from a legal review made by the company into Cuomo's involvement in the management of his brother's sexual harassment scandal.

Why it matters: Saturday's firing speaks to how much pressure CNN was under by employees and critics to address Cuomo's behavior.

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