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

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Expand chart
Note: Data includes the first 30 weeks of each year; Data: Internal Revenue Service; Chart: Chris Canipe/Axios

Trump's tax cuts were, weirdly, feared by homeowners and charities. Normally, tax cuts make people richer, and richer people spend more money on housing and charity.

But, but, but: Both those items have historically benefited from massive tax expenditures, leading to worries that they would be worse off after the tax cuts.

Driving the news: According to the latest data from the IRS, the tax cut worked much as everybody expected it would. The number of people itemizing their taxes plunged by more than 65%, with similar falls for the number of people deducting mortgage interest and charitable contributions.

Yes, but: The other shoe hasn't dropped.

  • Only 8% of taxpayers now deduct mortgage interest, yet home prices continue to rise, with no indication that the new law changed anything at all.
  • Similarly, the charitable contribution deduction has had no visible effect on charitable contributions. Total giving rose by 0.7% to a new record high in 2018, despite a late-year stock market plunge.

The bottom line: Tax deductions are much easier to create than they are to abolish; they're also hugely expensive. The evidence strongly implies that almost all of them are a waste of money.

Go deeper

4 hours ago - Health

Fauci: COVID vaccine rollout needs to prioritize people of color

Anthony Fauci. Photo: Alex Wong via Getty Images

Infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci highlighted the need to address racial disparities in the COVID-19 vaccination process, per an interview with The New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday.

What he’s saying: "I think that's the one thing we really got to be careful of. We don't want in the beginning ... most of the people who are getting it are otherwise, well, middle-class white people."

The Mischief Makers

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Several Republican and Democratic lawmakers are emerging as troublemakers within their parties and political thorns for their leadership.

Why it matters: We're calling this group "The Mischief Makers" — members who threaten to upend party unity — the theme eclipsing Washington at the moment — and potentially jeopardize the Democrats' or Republicans' position heading into the 2022 midterms.

5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Obama speechwriter fears Biden unity drive is one-sided

Cody Keenan (right) is shown heading to Marine One in December 2009. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Obama's former speechwriter says he's "preemptively frustrated" with President Biden's effort to find unity with Republicans.

What they're saying: Cody Keenan told Axios that Biden's messaging team has "struck all the right chords," but at some point "they're gonna have to answer questions like, 'Why didn't you achieve unity?' when there's an entire political party that's already acting to stop it."

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