In tonight’s Republican presidential debate, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), one of four Republicans seeking the GOP’s presidential nomination, claimed that the Smoot-Hawley Tariff led to the Great Depression.
This is yet another right-wing lie from Cruz.
The truth of the matter is that the Smoot-Hawley Tariff was enacted in response to the Great Depression, not before the Great Depression. Although economic problems that led to the Great Depression had been building up for years prior to the 1929 stock market crash (most notably rampant income inequality), the crash is seen as the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back and is viewed by many historians as the beginning of the Great Depression. The Smoot-Hawley Tariff, named after then-Sen. Reed Smoot (R-UT) and then-Rep. Willis C. Hawley (R-OR), was signed into law by then-President Herbert Hoover in June of 1930, nearly nine months after the Black Tuesday stock market crash of 1929.
The Smoot-Hawley Tariff failed to reverse the extreme economic decline for a number of reasons. First, the tariff was completely reactionary and not designed primarily to protect American manufacturing jobs or bring manufacturing jobs that went overseas back to America. Second, there wasn’t much in the way of social safety net programs or public works programs that any revenue generated by the tariff could be used to pay for back in 1930, as many of them still in place nowadays were enacted either as part of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal or as part of other policies enacted by subsequent presidents.
Ted Cruz, as well as many of the people he associates himself with, has a habit of lying through his teeth, and he’s proven that yet again. If you’re looking for a presidential candidate who will rebuild America and take on Wall Street greed, he’s not on stage tonight…he’s Bernie Sanders, and he’s seeking the Democratic presidential nomination.
3 thoughts on “Ted Cruz gets his history wrong about the Smoot-Hawley Tariff”
So the depression was caused not by sudden enforcement of dry laws with tax laws, but rather, by a severe shortage of the Socialist policies that had by then made Russia a paradise, plus a change in the tariff? Is this your argument? What part of the tariff was so different from the preceding Republican tariff act–the one in effect throughout the Roaring Twenties?
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The tariff actually WORSENED the economy because demand for imports was reduced. This reduction led to a loss of jobs in shipping. Also in response to the tariff, other nations reciprocated and raised their tariffs which hurt American exporters. Many exporters then laid off workers. The job loss contributed greatly to the length and depth of the depression.