Republicans have toned down their ambitions in response to fierce political headwinds. (Photo: Shutterstock)

Donald Trump repeatedly promised during his 2016 presidential campaign that he wouldn’t touch Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Still, Republican leaders in Congress have harbored hopes that their party’s unified control of the federal government would allow them to finally make major reforms to entitlement programs that the conservative movement has long sought.

As recently as last month, Speaker Paul Ryan said he wanted to get started on reforming entitlements to reduce the deficit and debt, a statement that infuriated Democrats, who pointed out that the deficit was only poised to grow as a result of the tax cut that Ryan had just pushed through Congress.

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