Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act

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Reed Smoot, Willis C. Hawley

The Tariff Act of 1930, otherwise known as the Smoot–Hawley Tariff or Hawley–Smoot Tariff (P.L. 71-361)[1] was an act, sponsored by United States Senator Reed Smoot and Representative Willis C. Hawley, and signed into law on June 17, 1930, that raised U.S. tariffs on over 20,000 imported goods to record levels.[2]

The overall level tariffs under the Tariff were the second-highest in US history, exceeded (by a small margin) only by the Tariff of 1828[3] and the ensuing retaliatory tariffs by U.S. trading partners reduced American exports and imports by more than half.

Some economists have opined that the tariffs contributed to the severity of the Great Depression.[4][5][6]


Sponsors and legislative history

The main goal was to protect American jobs and farmers from foreign competition, especially after the global economy entered the first stages of the Great Depression in late 1929. In 1922, Congress had passed the Fordney-McCumber tariff act, which had increased tariffs. Reed Smoot in 1929 championed yet another tariff increase, which became the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Bill. In his memoirs, Smoot made it abundantly clear:

"The world is paying for its ruthless destruction of life and property in the World War and for its failure to adjust purchasing power to productive capacity during the industrial revolution of the decade following the war."[7]

Smoot was a Republican from Utah and chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. Willis C. Hawley, a Republican from Oregon, was chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.

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