A Trio of Proposed Tariffs Reflect America's Protectionist Past

11/13/2017 - Professor of History Eric Rauchway at Marketplace.

“I want tariffs. And I want someone to bring me some tariffs.”

That’s what President Donald Trump reportedly told top aides in a meeting this summer. It just so happens a trio of formal trade complaints by U.S. manufacturers may deliver exactly the sort of tariffs the president has been hankering for.

Free-trade purists are upset, but consider: while free trade has ruled in recent decades, the U.S. has a long history of protectionist tariffs. In the early 20th century, Republican Sen. Reed Smoot was their biggest champion. He and Congressman Willis Hawley co-sponsored the Smoot-Hawley Tariff bill of 1930 which sparked counter-tariffs, damaging the world economy and worsened the Great Depression. But back then, tariffs and patriotism went hand in hand. “To be pro-tariff was to be American,” explained Eric Rauchway, a historian at the University of California, Davis.

Read the full story at Marketplace.

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