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AN HONEST TARIFF
the Ways and Means Committee to ask
that, in reducing the tariff on his articles, HE most significant fact about the it be reduced equally on the raw and
Underwood tariff bill is that it is manufactured products. Before the Com
an honest bill. It marks the mittee decided upon the point an uninbeginning of a new era. It is the first tentional “joker” crept into the bill, taking honest tariff since the Civil War; for in a
care of it. As soon as the manufacturer republic a tariff can not be called honest saw the joker he hastened to the Comthat is designed to enrich a few at the mittee and showed it to them, explainexpense of the many, particularly if the ing that so far as he was concerned he few that are to be enriched are the de- would rather lose his point than gain it signers of the schedules. In the past, in this old-fashioned manner which would Mr. Dingley, a woolen manufacturer, was leave him open to suspicion. As he the leader of the House of Representatives expressed it, "this bill has been made that raised the woolen schedule. Later with all the cards on the table." Mr. Aldrich, as leader of the Senate, al- It is a change in principles and methods, lowed his cotton and woolen manufactur- not so much a change in men. The ing constituents to prepare the cotton
framers of this bill are not necessarily and woolen schedules to their own liking. better men personally than the framers of
In the making of an honest tariff Mr. the dishonest tariffs. These measures Underwood, representing an iron and steel were passed with the votes and support district, reduces the rates on these articles. of many of the most distinguished statesAs he put it, if he had to be a special men and honorable men of the last fifty pleader for the interests that happen to be years. But this is not inconsistent. To located in his district, he "would be un- find a parallel you have only to look back worthy to bear a commission from the to another economic fallacy of special great Democratic party of this country.” privilege — the institution of slavery. It, It is a contrast that tells dramatically also, was maintained by as honest and as the changed attitude toward the tariff. high-minded men as were in the country. It would be more encouraging if all the It cost a war to rid us of that economic Democratic members of Congress were as error, If the Underwood bill is the becourageous as Mr. Underwood. Some of ginning of a new era in tariff making, as them, though elected on a low tariff plat- it seems to be, we are getting rid of this form, dare not advocate a reduction on the second practice of privilege very cheaply. products of their own districts for fear of But it is not a perfect tariff bill. It is losing their seats. They present a sorry not even a scientific tariff bill. The men spectacle, and their lack of courage will who framed it have been struggling over leave them with diminished influence tariff schedules for four years. They among their fellows. But in spite of these probably know more about them than men, the new tariff is honestly conceived any one else in the country. But, in the for the benefit of all the people of the strict sense of the word, the bill is not a United States.
scientific tariff. There can be no such Here, for example, is a little incident thing. The ramifications of trade are so that is an indication of the difference be- infinite and so inter-related that no human tween the spirit in which this tariff bill mind can prophesy all the results of a was prepared and the spirit in which its change in the rates in even one schedule. predecessors were made. Ever since the Any tariff is a restraint of trade that dams Payne-Aldrich tariff became law (even or deflects the currents of commerce from while it was being passed) "jokers” have their natural channels. The rates in the been coming to light — little phrases Underwood bill are not fair, one compared cunningly devised to look as if they meant with another. It is impossible that they one thing and to effect another result. should be. But they represent an honest While this present bill was under dis- effort at fairness, an endeavor to get rid cussion a manufacturer appeared before of the most glaring schedules of favor
itism, an attempt to lighten the load of the national expenditures. Certainly in this common man.
new era of a low tariff and an income tax It is noticeable that the fear of tariff we shall not be forced to devise wasteful revision is not nearly so extreme as it means to dissipate surpluses in the Federal was four years ago. When a cry of Treasury that were collected under a calamity would block the revision of the tariff that was designed as protection for tariff, the cry was forthcoming. Now that favorite industries. it would not be effective, it is not made; and in private conversation you may hear A RESPONSIBLE GOVERNMENT manufacturers saying, even with pride, “Well, let 'em take the tariff off, I guess HE coöperation between the leadI can get along." And, of course, with
ers in Congress and the President few exceptions they will; for there is
in the handling of the tariff much more of the American spirit of inde- measure and the attitude that all conpendence and success in our manufacturers cerned hold toward the currency question than they themselves have been willing give the Democratic party a new aspect. to admit. Leaning upon the charity of In spite of the Democratic stand-pat Senathe tariff had begun to sap their manhood. tors, the Democratic party is fairly well But in the face of a changed condition, knit together. It more nearly approaches which many of them have wisely dis- being a responsible party than did its precounted already, there is little fear of their decessor. There is a tendency toward fulfilling their own direful prophecies. coöperation between Congress and the Not that such changed conditions are President concerning the tariff which makes easy to meet; for it is impossible to tell it more nearly like a British government just what effect reductions in rates will measure than we are accustomed to see. have on any one particular factory: but The President and the Democratic Coneven the most fearful beneficiary of pro- gress were elected upon the same platform tection has no serious apprehension con- to do the same thing, and the obvious thing cerning the prosperity of the great bulk is to get together and do it. Mr. Wilson of our industry.
revived an old custom as a graceful way of
making the first move in the harmonious THE INCOME TAX
coöperation between the legislative and
administrative branches of the GovernIKE the rates of the new tariff, the ment. And the President has not usurped provisions of the income tax bill the functions of the House nor trod upon are not perfect. That bill is an
That bill is an the dignity of the Senate. Mr. Undereffort to raise revenue in a fairer fashion wood's position as chairman of the Comthan by the tariff. Probably in time
. Probably in time mittee of Ways and Means is certainly as experience will point the way to a better powerful and as useful to the public, now income tax law. But in the meantime that Mr. Wilson goes to the Capitol, as there is a fundamental merit which this Mr. Payne's position was when he visited income tax measure has in common with Mr. Taft at the White House.
The next any other income tax bill: It is a direct obvious step is, not only to allow but on tax that sharply brings home to the certain occasions to require the Cabinet people the fact that they furnish the members to be present on the floor of the money that the Government spends. House and the Senate. In their hands is The old humbug that the foreigner paid the information upon which many of the the tariff can not be applied to the income laws should be based, and in their hands, tax. Because the tariff tax was merged also, is the administration of the laws in the price of our purchases we could not after they are passed. The coördination tell just how much it was. There is no of the Government's activities demands such vagueness about the income tax. that Congress be able to get at the adminIts directness is likely gradually to edu- istrative parts of the Government more cate us to a less extravagant idea of intimately and easily. At present, when