03/13/2018

My Bill Would Help Restore Congressional Authority On Tariffs

Sen. Mike Lee, Daily Signal

If you work in manufacturing, your job was just put at risk.

Last week, President Donald Trump signed an order imposing a 10 percent tariff on aluminum imports and a 25 percent tariff on steel imports.

The official rationale behind the tariffs is that a reduction of skilled smelters in the United States threatens national security. Supposedly, we don’t have the requisite domestic steel and aluminum production capacity to build the weapons of war needed to defend the country.

Never mind the fact the Pentagon currently uses just 3 percent of our domestic steel output and 5 percent of our domestic aluminum output.

The real reason Trump announced higher tariffs on Thursday is that he wants to protect American jobs. This is a worthy goal. Unfortunately, since tariffs work just the same as tax hikes, and tax hikes kill jobs, Trump’s tariffs will almost certainly backfire.

As we’ve seen throughout history, imposing protectionist tariffs such as these often have crippling, unforeseen results. If you raise tariffs on a product, the increased cost will get passed on to consumers. These tax hikes will hit loggers in the northwest, farmers in the plain states, and my own constituents in Utah.

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In Search Of History

4,000 Years Of Price Control

Tablets, said to be 200 years older than the Babylonian Code of Hammurabi ... show that the ancient kingdom of Eshnunna had wage control and price control. The news ought not to have come as a surprise. For the code of Hammurabi itself (unearthed in 1902), which was promulgated earlier than 2000 B.C., fixed prices, wages, interest rates, and fees. This makes price control at least about 4,000 years old. ...

 

Ironically, it is those who now wish to return to this ancient totalitarian device who are fondest of calling themselves “progressives.” They are also fond of saying that those who believe in economic liberty “are living in the nineteenth century.” These controlists have yet to learn that they themselves are still living, as the discoveries in Babylonia attest, in the nineteenth century—B.C.!

-- Henry Hazlitt,

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  • Inflation:
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    FreeMarket Central Shadow Stats: 9.9%

*[cpi-u is the Bureau of Labor Statistics inflation rate for all urban consumers]

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