How A Tariff Loving Utah Senator Became A Cautionary Tale About Protectionism

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tags: Trade, Trump, protectionism, Tariff, Trade wars, Smoot Hawley

As President Donald Trump threatens another round of tariffs on Chinese goods, Utah’s business and elected leaders are sounding the alarm over the growing trade war and its effect on parts of the state. The tariffs are even invoking comparisons to an earlier era when a Utah Senator named Reed Smoot became synonymous with the negative consequences of protectionism. 

Smoot was a Mormon apostle and Republican Senator who served in Congress for three decades in the early 20th century. In 1929, Smoot co-sponsored trade legislation dubbed the Smoot-Hawley Act that imposed tariffs on hundreds of imported goods. 

“At that time it was really motivated around concerns about incomes in agriculture,” said Tom Maloney, an economics professor at the University of Utah. “Farmers' incomes were weak and this was maybe a way to protect them and improve their economic position.”

The legislation represented a mainstream GOP position, said Harvard Heath, a retired Brigham Young University professor who authored a book on Reed.

Read entire article at KUER

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