Freedom Caucus keeps undermining its own reputation

The dome of the U.S. Capitol Building is reflected in a puddle on a rainy morning in Washington.
The dome of the U.S. Capitol Building is reflected in a puddle on a rainy morning in Washington.
Ask any Republican official in Washington about his or her policy priorities, and you're likely to hear about tax cuts and government regulations. The latter tends to sound good to much of the public -- the word immediately conjures up images of bureaucracy and red tape -- but one person's "regulation" is another person's "safeguard."The GOP is going to have to be far more specific. Thankfully, the Washington Post reported the other day on the far-right House Freedom Caucus going into detail about the regulations it wants to eliminate.

Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), the incoming chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, used a meeting with Donald Trump to deliver a list of 232 regulations that the incoming president could repeal immediately. "We felt like it was important to put together a real working document," Meadows told CNN.

The full list was published online last week, and it touches on existing regulations that touch practically every facet of modern American life. If the House Freedom Caucus has its way, existing policies regulating carbon emissions, food safety, net neutrality, personal finances, and many more, would simply cease to be.At one point, the Caucus' list included this gem: “All regulations carry costs, which are inevitably passed on to consumers in one form or another.”In other words, every government regulation, by definition, should be considered suspect, because it's a government regulation.And while the list is itself an alarming blueprint -- and a peek into a very conservative worldview -- a new wrinkle emerged yesterday: the House Freedom Caucus did not actually "put together a real working document," but rather, cobbled together others' work without attribution.USA Today reported yesterday that much of the document was apparently plagiarized.

Most of the list ... was not written by Meadows' staff or the Freedom Caucus. Large chunks of the "special report" were lifted from other places without attribution: websites of the Heritage Foundation and other free-market groups; policy papers and letters from industry lobbying groups; even in one case an entire paragraph of a Politico news article.It is not all that surprising that the Heritage Foundation would be the source of a lot of the ideas on the deregulation target list, given that members of the Freedom Caucus have participated in monthly lunches with reporters hosted and moderated by the Heritage Foundation. But the report took many of its explanations about the impacts of targeted rules word-for-word from Heritage Foundation publications.

In other areas, lobbying organizations' arguments were also copy and pasted into the Freedom Caucus' document.USA Today's report added, "The Freedom Caucus clip job was apparently so rushed that in several cases they imported links to other group's documents. The special report targets Federal Aviation Administration drone rules using an explanation written by the Competitive Enterprise Institute, including a link to 'CEI comments here.'"The House Freedom Caucus already has a bad reputation. This really isn't going to help.