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Trump ‘Tariff Man’ tweet an homage to William McKinley

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William Mckinley
Former
President William McKinley, who was the source of President
Donald Trump’s “Tariff Man” moniker.

Library of Congress

  • President Donald Trump called himself a “Tariff Man” on
    Twitter.
  • The name is derived from former President William McKinley’s
    statement in the 1896 presidential election that he was a
    a tariff
    man standing
    on a tariff platform,” according to Trump adviser
    Peter Navarro.
  • McKinley’s conception of tariffs
    may be a bit outdated, though.

President Donald Trump sent Twitter alight on Tuesday by
referring to himself as a “Tariff Man,”
drawing superhero
comparisons
and helping to raise concerns about the
preliminary US-China trade agreement.

But the origin of the name is not the pages of a comic book.
Rather, one of Trump’s top trade advisers said it was an homage
to late 19th century president.

Peter Navarro, Trump’s hawkish trade adviser, said the tweet was
a reference to Republican President William McKinley. Here’s the
history lesson via Navarro’s interview on Fox Business:

Let me
give you a little 
background on that
because 
that’s an homage to one of President Trump’s
favorite
presidents,
William McKinley. 
When McKinley was
running in 
1896 on a platform of prosperity,
protection, and patriotism, he said he is ‘a
tariff man standing
on a tariff platform.’ What McKinley did
when he got 
elected [was] put in strong
tariffs
and a realigned the currency. It actually not only
set off tremendous
catalytic growth, but also helped
realign
the Republican Party.”

McKinley was known during his time
in Congress for
the eponymous McKinley tariff
that was passed in 1890. It
raised tariffs by as much as 50% on various products. The Ohioan
later ran for president during the 1896 election on a pro-tariff
platform.


Read more:

Trump calls himself ‘Tariff Man’ during raging tweetstorm on
China trade war, and the stock market tanks»

Similar to Trump’s desire to boost
domestic businesses, McKinley argued that the tariffs would help
to protect US companies and lead to greater economic
prosperity.

But the historical comparisons virtually end there. For one,
tariffs were
the primary source of federal revenue
at the time since there
was no income tax, making them much more important for government
functions.

Additionally, supply chains are
much more complex
in the present day. Instead of producing
goods from start to finish in a factory, parts are taken from all
over the world. Now,
tariffs are more likely
to end up harming US businesses that
rely on those parts.

And the McKinley tariff ignores more recent examples of tariffs
causing economic damage. From
the disastrous Smoot-Hawley tariffs
during the Great
Depression to George W. Bush’s
failed steel tariffs in 2002
, tariffs in the 20th and 21st
centuries have generally been a
net economic negative
for the US.

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