Apr 16, 2017

The "candy option" for tax reform

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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Coronavirus updates: Global death toll tops 32,000

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

The novel coronavirus has now killed more than 32,000 people around the world — with Italy alone reporting over 10,000 deaths, per data from Johns Hopkins.

The big picture: The number of deaths from COVID-19 in the U.S. surpassed 2,000 on Saturday. The United States leads the world in confirmed coronavirus infections, with more than 125,000 by noon on Sunday. The number of those recovered from the virus in the U.S. surpassed on Saturday evening.

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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

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  2. U.S.: Leads the world in cases. Total confirmed cases as of 12 p.m. ET: 125,313 — Total deaths: 2,197 — Total recoveries: 2,612.
  3. Federal government latest: Trump announces new travel advisories for New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, but rules out quarantine enforcement.
  4. Public health updates: Fauci says 100,000 to 200,000 Americans could die from virus.
  5. State updates: Louisiana governor says state is on track to exceed ventilator capacity by end of this week.
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Fixing America's broken coronavirus supply chain

Polowczyk speaks at a coronavirus briefing at the White House, March 23. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

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Driving the news: "Today, I, as leader of FEMA's supply chain task force, am blind to where all the product is," Rear Adm. John Polowczyk tells Axios.

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