The outlook for an ambitious Republican reform agenda is bleak at this point, to put it mildly. The GOP effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) foundered in the Senate. The president's budget plan is already long forgotten, filled as it was with fanciful assumptions and implausible policies. The chances of a GOP-written budget plan with significant spending and tax cuts making it through both the House and the Senate are slim. Even tax reform on its own looks less and less likely, as the main players continue to utter only the vaguest generalities about what they have in mind.
It didn't have to be this way. Republicans have driven their agenda into a ditch through a combination of inexperience, overconfidence, and an ill-advised legislative strategy. They bet everything on their ability to pass a series of highly controversial bills through Congress, one after the other, with just Republican votes. That was a fatal mistake.