Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Nashville news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Nashville newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Columbus news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Columbus newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Dallas news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Dallas newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Paul Ryan, Trump and Kevin Brady at a White House meeting on the tax plan. Photo: Evan Vucci / AP

Three problems to watch as the House Ways and Means Committee finalizes the Republican tax reform bill this week:

  1. The new fault line for big business: an excise tax on cross-border transactions. Watch for multinational corporations and well-funded lobby groups to mobilize aggressively against this tax. It caught everyone by surprise. Our thought bubble: If the excise tax becomes too big a problem, we bet they replace it with the repeal of the Obamacare individual mandate. (But bringing health care into a tax debate has its own problems.)
  2. Pro-life groups and social conservative leaders are fighting to save the adoption tax credit, which the GOP bill scraps. Influential social conservative leaders such as Penny Nance and Marjorie Dannenfelser are leading the charge. Nance, who runs Concerned Women for America, emailed me to say that "the majority of families who sacrificially walk out their faith by caring for 'the least of these' through adoption depend on the ability to afford the costs...I am almost speechless at the lapse of judgement but we will work to clean up the mistake."
  3. A number of Republicans believe it's political malpractice to eliminate a longstanding tax break for people who have very high medical costs. One senior House Republican told me he thinks it's the stupidest idea in the entire 429-page tax bill.

Be smart: Tax reform is a series of painful trade-offs. Every time you shut down a tax break you find an interest group passionate about defending it. But not all tax breaks are politically — or morally — equal.

What's next? Republicans will propose plenty of changes to the tax bill over the coming days, with House Ways and Means aiming to finish its mark-up by the end of the week. I've seen no signs so far, however, that they're prepared to fold on any of these controversial provisions.

  • When I asked a senior House GOP official about the adoption tax credit, for example, they pointed me to all the other social conservative measures contained in the bill.
  • And House Ways and Means chairman, Kevin Brady, who is an adoptive father, answers the question this way: "We are working to give families not only help when they're adopting but every year when that child is growing up, by making sure they have more in their paychecks to raise kids."

Editor's Note: Sign up for Axios newsletters to get our Smart Brevity delivered to your inbox every morning.

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
5 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Biden's carbon emissions-cutting pledge faces tough climb

Image from the Rhodium Group study "Pathways to Paris." Courtesy of the Rhodium Group.

The verdict is in: President Biden's U.S. emissions-cutting pledge isn't a fantasy, but the path to meeting it is very difficult and relies on forces outside of White House control.

Driving the news: The Rhodium Group just released an analysis of policy combinations that could close the gap between the current U.S. trajectory and Biden's vow under the Paris Agreement to cut emissions in half by 2030.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
Updated 8 mins ago - Economy & Business

Johnson & Johnson pulls the trigger on Texas talc gambit

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

It's official: Johnson & Johnson has invoked a Texas legal loophole in an attempt to protect the bulk of its corporate assets from claims that its baby powder caused ovarian cancer and mesothelioma.

Why it matters: It's the biggest and boldest invocation yet of the so-called Texas two-step defense. But it's still not clear whether it's going to work.

Poll: U.S. leadership approval rebounds from Trump low

A Gallup report published Tuesday found approval of United States leadership in 46 countries and territories hit 49% — up from 30% at the end of Donald Trump's presidency, and matching former President Obama's first year (2009).

Why it matters: Biden's efforts to reengage with the international community following the Trump administration appear to be improving the global approval ratings for U.S. leadership, though this poll does not take into account the withdrawal from Afghanistan in August.