RSC chairman evades copyright reform question at conservative event

The incoming chairman of the Republican Study Committee (RSC) Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) made it clear Tuesday that the RSC would not be discussing copyright reform any further in the near future.

At an American Enterprise Institute (AEI) event on Tuesday, Jordan Bloom of The American Conservative asked Scalise about the recent copyright reform memo that was released — and then retracted. Bloom was the reporter who first broke the news of the memo, and later broke that it had been taken down.

“Steve, you talked about providing a vision for the future for conservatives,” the questioner said. “Recently there was a paper that did. It took a rather brave position on intellectual property reform. And we come to find out that [the author has] been fired. Do you think that was a wise decision for a party that needs to be reaching younger voters and when can we expect a more balanced take?”

Scalise responded with an overview of the RSC’s grand vision as a whole and did not specifically respond to the question. He neither explained how the House’s Republican caucus planned to reach out to young voters or how it would handle the issue of copyright reform in the future.

He also said the RSC staff “provides a critical role of giving us the information and the tools we need to go to battle,” but his focus will be mainly on the members of the RSC, on making sure they are united and focused to fight the battles. Scalise added that the RSC has a “great staff led by Paul Teller and a number of others” – which is ironic given that the author of the copyright memo, Derek Khanna, and other staff members of the RSC will be dismissed at the beginning of Scalise’s tenure as RSC chair in January.

After Scalise gave his answer, moderator and AEI President Arthur C. Brooks immediately took the next question. The copyright question was one of the few questions of the event that only one of the two RSC participants answered. Current RSC chairman Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), who was also present at the event, did not comment on the copyright reform debacle that took place under his watch.

Whatever the reason for Scalise’s evasiveness, it came off as if the RSC does not have a strategy to reach young people. And — as shown by the positive hubbub the copyright reform memo caused — copyright reform could be a component of such a strategy. If the House Republican caucus already has a strategy in mind to reach out to young people, it needs to communicate it more clearly in the future. Young Americans are waiting to hear it.