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Trump riles up Smoot-Hawley Twitter with ‘trade wars’ tweet

Students of history are annoyed at the president.


David Covucci


Posted on Mar 2, 2018   Updated on May 21, 2021, 11:05 pm CDT

Yesterday, President Donald Trump announced new tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, causing the Dow to plunge 400 points. Today—unfazed—he declared trade wars are easy to win.

Pedantic tweeters who remember buzzwords from pre-World War II America—a surprisingly large subset of the site—came for the president.

While you may have forgotten the Smoot-Hawley tariffs, save for its funny name, it was one of the most disastrous policies implemented in United States history. Championed by Sen. Reed Smoot and Rep. Willis C. Hawley, it introduced sweeping tariffs on tens of thousands of goods imported into the United States. At the time, in 1930, the tariffs imposed were the second-highest in the history of the U.S.

Instead of helping a floundering U.S. economy that had just suffered a huge stock market crash, the tariffs are widely considered to have kicked the Great Depression into high gear.

(And yes, the stock market did just undergo a correction last month, so…)

Trump’s tariffs, in fairness, are just on steel and aluminum imports and are in no way as broad as Smoot-Hawley. But Twitter never wastes an opportunity to find a funny phrase and drive it into the ground.

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*First Published: Mar 2, 2018, 8:17 am CST