J. Scott Applewhite / AP

As full-blown tax reform looks more and more like an unreachable stretch, there's increasing conversation on the Hill about what's being called a "candy option" — all the goodies, with none of the pain.

That would mean lower personal and corporate rates, plus some limited repatriation, funded largely by deficit spending.

  • The case for: "It's something they can pass," said a Republican lobbyist who's deeply connected to all sides of the debate. "We need to junk our current tax code for one more suited to the modern economy. But the ability to accomplish that goal just isn't there."
  • The objection: Both House and Senate leadership sources tell us they don't think the "candy" route is feasible. "The problem with the candy option is it grows quickly," a senior Senate aide said. What he meant is that once you cut corporate rates, politically you have to also deal with pass-throughs for small businesses and also lower individual rates.
  • Then there's the "Ivanka credit" for child care. Pretty soon, you've racked up several trillion in revenue losses. And while you might not have angered anyone by taking away their goodies or imposing a new revenue mechanism (like the border-adjustment tax), you've still got a heck of a job convincing Republicans in either chamber to pass something that blows a hole in budget and is by definition temporary (since under reconciliation, you can't make the cuts permanent if they add to the deficit).
  • The bottom line: Speaker Ryan is still determined to go as big as possible and do real tax reform. But the White House needs to buy into it and get right behind it. Otherwise there'll be the same disaster as healthcare. A senior House aide said: "When it comes to real tax reform, there is no easy option."

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tore into her Republican colleagues on Thursday for their approach to negotiating the next coronavirus stimulus package, telling CNBC's Jim Cramer: "Perhaps you mistook them for somebody who gives a damn."

Why it matters: Democrats and the Trump administration have not agreed to any "top-line numbers" and remain "trillions of dollars apart," White House chief of staff Mark Meadows told reporters on Thursday.

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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Last month I wrote that SPACs are the new IPOs. But I may have understated it, because SPACs are also becoming the new private equity.

By the numbers: Short for "special purpose acquisition company," SPACs have raised $24 billion so far in 2020, with a loaded pipeline of upcoming offerings. U.S. buyout firms raised nearly $102 billion through the end of June — a much larger amount, but not so much larger that the two can't play on the same field.

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Macron visits Beirut promising a "new political pact" for Lebanon

Macron visits the hard-hit Gemmayzeh neighborhood. Photo: AFP via Getty Images

French President Emmanuel Macron walked through the blast-damaged streets of Beirut on Thursday, swarmed by people chanting for the fall of Lebanon's government and pleading for international aid.

Why it matters: Lebanon is at a breaking point. Its economy was collapsing and its government hardly functioning — all before a massive explosion destroyed swathes of the capital city, including its vital port.