Feb 28, 2017

Trump not expected to endorse border adjustment tax tonight

Evan Vucci / AP

Unless something radically changes at the last minute — and the team is still working on the speech — President Trump won't specifically endorse the border adjustment tax in his address tonight.

Sources familiar with the planning say there'll be no dramatic revelation about tax reform. Trump is expected to outline broad principles but leave the door open to supporting or opposing it in the future.

Why this matters: Trump's team is divided on border adjustment. The nationalist wing of the White House — led by Steve Bannon — supports the plan to raise $1 trillion by hiking taxes on imports. Officials closer to corporate America, including top economic advisor Gary Cohn and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, are said to be deeply skeptical. House Speaker Paul Ryan says the only way major tax reform will get done is if border adjustment is part of it to pay for massive tax cuts.

Update: A source sent us the talking points the White House sent to Capitol Hill to preview the speech. Here's the one that relates to border adjustment:

  • We must have fair trade for our workers – foreign countries can no longer be allowed to tax our exports while shipping goods into our country for free.

If Trump uses language similar to this it's enough to signal openness to the concept without outright endorsing it. It's language that could just as easily apply to outright tariffs.

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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.

The novel coronavirus continues to spread to more nations, and the U.S. reports a doubling of its confirmed cases to 34 — while noting those are mostly due to repatriated citizens, emphasizing there's no "community spread" yet in the U.S. South Korea's confirmed cases jumped from 204 on Friday to 433 on Saturday.

The big picture: COVID-19 has now killed at least 2,362 people and infected more than 77,000 others, mostly in mainland China. New countries to announce infections recently include Israel, Lebanon and Iran.

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Centrist Democrats beseech 2020 candidates: "Stand up to Bernie" or Trump wins

Bernie Sanders rallies in Las Vegas, Nevada on Feb. 21. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Center-left think tank Third Way urgently called on the Democratic front-runners of the 2020 presidential election to challenge Sen. Bernie Sanders on the South Carolina debate stage on Feb. 25, in a memo provided to Axios' Mike Allen on Saturday.

What they're saying: "At the Las Vegas debate ... you declined to really challenge Senator Sanders. If you repeat this strategy at the South Carolina debate this week, you could hand the nomination to Sanders, likely dooming the Democratic Party — and the nation — to Trump and sweeping down-ballot Republican victories in November."

Situational awareness

Warren Buffett. Photo: Daniel Zuchnik/WireImage

Catch up on today's biggest news:

  1. Warren Buffett releases annual letter, reassures investors about future of Berkshire Hathaway
  2. Centrist Democrats beseech 2020 candidates: "Stand up to Bernie" or Trump wins
  3. Reports: Facebook offers up to $5 for voice recordings
  4. America's future looks a lot like Nevada
  5. Greyhound bars immigration sweeps