Tag: American history

Ted Cruz gets his history wrong about the Smoot-Hawley Tariff

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.

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We celebrate our independence from the British monarchy, not our own government, on July 4

We celebrate our independence from the British monarchy (Queen Elizabeth II pictured at top), not our own government (U.S. Congress depicted at bottom)
We celebrate our independence from the British monarchy (Queen Elizabeth II pictured at top), not our own government (U.S. Capitol pictured at bottom)

On July 4 of every year, we, the people of the United States of America, officially celebrate Independence Day, our national holiday. While people usually associate the Fourth of July with fireworks, barbecue cookouts, and NASCAR racing at Daytona International Speedway, there is an official reason why we celebrate the Fourth of July that far too many people don’t understand, including certain elected officials in this country.

One of those elected officials is Scott Walker, the Republican Governor of Wisconsin and one of many candidates running for the Republican presidential nomination. Walker has repeatedly claimed that we celebrate Independence Day as a day commemorating how we somehow gained our independence from our own government, and he took to Twitter earlier today to make that claim once again:

I don’t remember winning our independence from the federal government, and that’s because…we never did. Long before any of us who currently live in the United States were born, we won our independence from the British monarchy, not our own government. In the mid-to-late 18th Century, King George III of the United Kingdom and the British Parliament, which, at the time, controlled the American colonies that became the first 13 states in our Union, began imposing taxes on the colonies, despite the fact that the American colonies had no voting representation in the British Parliament. That led to the American Revolutionary War, which was fought between those who sought American independence and the British and began in April of 1775. On July 2, 1776, the Second Continental Congress, a temporary national government established during the Revolutionary War, which had been ongoing for over a year at the time, officially voted to secede from Britain. Two days later, on July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence, which formally proclaimed the United States of America, was officially ratified and ordered to be published. So, the Fourth of July is a holiday commemorating the ratification and publication of the Declaration of Independence, not a holiday commemorating the American people winning independence from its own government.

If it weren’t for the American Revolution, we would still be under the control of the British Sovereign, currently Queen Elizabeth II, and the British Government, currently led by Prime Minister David Cameron of the British Conservative Party, without any representation in the British Parliament. Because of the American Revolution, we have our own government, our own president, our own Congress, and our own court system, regardless of whether or not we like the people in positions of power in this country.

Many on the far-right in this country, including Scott Walker, incorrectly believe that the Fourth of July is a holiday commemorating American freedom from taxation imposed by our own government. That’s simply not true. The Fourth of July is a holiday commemorating American freedom from taxation imposed by the British government without representation in the British parliament (i.e., taxation without representation), not non-existent American freedom from taxation imposed by our own government. For Walker and others on the far-right to claim that the Fourth of July commemorates American independence from our own government is absolutely false and pure revisionist history.