Back in February 2018, I sat down with two leaders of the House Freedom Caucus to discuss, among other things, whether fiscal conservatism had gone extinct.

A few days earlier, with encouragement from his budget director, Mick Mulvaney, President Donald Trump had signed a budget deal boosting federal spending by nearly $300 billion. I told the leaders, Mark Meadows and Jim Jordan, that it seemed precisely the kind of deal that Mulvaney, a self-professed fiscal hawk and founding member of the Freedom Caucus, would have railed against during his time in Congress.

Meadows shrugged. “He wouldn’t have been supportive of it,” the North Carolina congressman told me. But “he’s got a different boss now.”