Tariffs Make American Lives “Sweeter, And Brighter And Brighter And Brighter”
There’s been so much going on, that lots of people overlooked Trump’s invoking 19th Century President William McKinley to help justify his steep tariffs on steel and aluminum.
And of course, it’s a misquote: McKinley only said “sweeter and brighter”. Trump embellishes: adding 2 additional “brighters”. But that should come as no surprise.
Here’s a clip (click on the photo to play):
McKinley was extraordinarily pro-tariff, something the U.S. was very divided about as the country rebuilt after the Civil War. And tariffs came on and off as Republicans and Democrats wrestled for control of Congress. As a Republican Representative from Ohio, McKinley’s 1889 tariff bill was actually intended to reduce what was then a huge government budget surplus: the theory being by raising tariffs and discouraging imports, tariff revenues would actually decline.
That bill (and gerrymandering) cost him his seat in 1890, in a campaign that was particularly dirty even for the time: According to Wikipedia, Democrats hired supporters to go door to door selling 25-cent tinware for 50-cents, explaining the price rise “was due to the McKinley Tariff”. Fake news!
But support of tariffs helped win him the Presidency in 1896 and again in 1900. One year later he was assassinated.