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Reports concerning 56 commodities were made to the President. The presidential proclamation on 38 commodities changed the rates of duty—33 increases and 5 decreases. There were reports on 18 commodities submitted to the President upon which no proclamation was issued.
Under the tariff act of 1930, which has been operative since June 18, 1930, there were 138 different investigations sought, involving 246 commodities. There have been 39 investigations made and a like number of reports made to the President. Rates were increased on 12 commodities, and decreased on 17. On 39 commodities, there were no changes. These figures are as of November 30, 1931.
We assume that the commission has been diligent in its efforts. Yet, only a small number of the cases brought by interested parties have been disposed of. There yet remain many petitions filed by producers and by importers who are pressing their matters, determined in the hope of gain. With this condition, it is apparent that the general public has little, if any, opportunity to have studies made upon veritably hundreds of commodities which affect them vitally and which would be of general benefit to the wountry at large, unless some one charged with this special duty will institute proceedings before the commission and present the cause of the consuming public to it.
It might be useful and interesting in this connection to quote the following from the testimony of the Hon. David J. Lewis, formerly a member of the Tariff Commission, and now a Member of this House, before a Senate committee investigating the Tariff Commission:
Keep in mind always, Mr. Chairman, that in Tariff Commission cases the real defendant is never there, that in the very nature of things now and perhaps always Tariff Commission investigations and trials are ex parte trials. In no instances that I can now recall has the taxed consumer been represented. The burden on him is a disguised-and I did not say "disguised” in an unfavorable sense—but is a hidden and indirect burden that he does not consciously recognize. He is not before the court in discussions of tariff matters. In some instances the importer is there with his commercial interest in the subject; he participates and may present information of value, but in no instance have we had the consumer there to defend himself or present information of value.
For the foregoing reasons, the creation of a consumers' counsel is respectfully recommended.
INTERNATIONAL ECONOMIC CONFERENCE
There is a widespread belief among the people of the United States that by reason of the high and exhorbitant rates of the tariff act of 1930 we have incurred the hostility of many nations throughout the world. They believe that this hostility has resulted in the enactment of many retaliatory tariffs against us, the results of which are causing uneasiness and concern to all thoughtful minds.
The results of these retaliatory tariffs are reflected by the falling off of over $2,800,000,000 in American exports, which has created an immense surplus of manufactured articles and agricultural commodities for which there is no market here in America or elsewhere.
By reason of these retaliatory tariffs American manufacturers, taking a few key men with them, have moved their plants to foreign countries, with the result that thousands of American employees are thrown out of employment and their places are taken by the foreign workingman who is now engaged in manufacturing those articles which formerly were made here in the United States by the American workingman.
In Canada alone, according to a report made to the Senate dated January 20, 1931, the Secretary of Commerce reported that the number of American-owned branch and subsidiary manufacturing plants in Canada in 1929 was 467, with an investment of $513,864,000.
On September 17, 1931, the Canadian Press (the Canadian press service comparable to the Associated Press in the United States) sent out a dispatch from Ottawa to the effect that the number of such American-owned plants in Canada at that time was 1,071, with a total capital investment of $1,189,590,000.
It was for these reasons, together with many others, that the Committee on Ways and Means adopted section 4 in the hope that if the President of the United States should invite in friendly conference the representatives of the nations of the world, many of whom have enacted retaliatory tariffs against us, there might be entered into some mutual agreement which would have the effect of lessening retaliatory tariffs, would abolish economic wars, and bring about more friendly trade relations with foreign governments.
VIEWS OF THE MINORITY
The bill (H. R. 6662) was ordered reported by the Committee on Ways and Means, all of the Republican members voting in the negative.
In our opinion the legislation is not necessary, nor required by business or other interests of the country, but is a political activity. It contains provisions which the Republican Party has heretofore rejected as unsound, or are in direct contradiction to its policies. It destroys the flexible provisions of the tariff act of 1930, creates an expensive and unnecessary office with additional burdens on the public funds, and submits the protective tariff policy of the Nation to the participation of foreign countries, which if carried into effect, will take from or impair the constitutional prerogative of the House of Representatives to control all such legislation.
THE FLEXIBLE PROVISIONS
The flexible provisions of the tariff act of 1930 provide that the Tariff Commission shall, after thorough investigation, report to the President proposed changes in classifications, or the basis of value, or rates of duties, within a limit of 50 per cent, above or below, those provided for in the law. This promotes promptness in the determination of changes and affects in the least degree possible, the stability of business, or the production of articles. The Supreme Court of the United States has upheld the constitutionality of the flexible provisions.
The pending bill eliminates the flexibility by requiring the commission to report to the President and to Congress any proposed changes which changes do not become effective until Congress
has acted. Congress is not required to approve the recommendations of the commission, as is now required of the President, but can amend, reject, or disregard the proposals, in whole or in part, and the time such proposals may be pending before the Congress is unlimited. In the enactment of tariff legislation many delays are experienced. The result will be that the Congress will always be engaged in the consideration of piecemeal tariff measures if the legislation is to be at all effective.
The bill attempts to limit the action of Congress to the individual proposals submitted by the commission. This is a pious hope, for no Congress can restrict the legislative action of a subsequent Congress in the matter of its procedure. The voting down of a ruling of à presiding officer of the House sets aside the existing rule invoked. Moreover, unless the House can readjust other duties affected by a proposed change, serious injustices may be effected. However, if the House, basing its action upon a recommendation of the Tariff Commission, undertakes to adjust duties related to or dependent upon a proposed change, many paragraphs and even schedules will
need to be readjusted. For instance, if the duty on yarns of wool is to be increased, the duties on the cloth, clothing and other manufactures of wool will require attention and in all probability readjustment.
That is, the bill opens the door for continuous tariff agitation, resulting in uncertainity and instability in business. For as stated above, no one can predict the time required to enact any proposed tariff legislation.
CONSUMERS' COUNSEL The provisions for the consumers' counsel create an unnecessary and probably expensive office. We do not see how such an officer can usefully and profitably serve the country unless it is to be assumed that in some way unknown to us, the Tariff Commission has failed to fulfill all of its functions. The commission as a fact-finding body, aided by a corps of experts of great efficiency, has made the necessary investigations with great thoroughness. It has drawn from the assembled data, conclusions that in its judgment were warranted, with no sense of obligation to, or discrimination against, producer, consumer, or any other class of our people. No complaint has reached us that in any action of the commission it has failed to give due consideration to all.
Neither has any body of our citizenry, as consumers, asked for the creation of this office. "Why then, in this emergency, create another office and a new expense?
We are all in turn both producers and consumers. When will the consumers' counsel represent us, and on what occasions will his services be necessary? In what instances has the action taken by the Tariff Commission indicated that such services were necessary? None were called to our attention. Arguments based on suppositions were presented, but no actual cases cited.
PERMANENT INTERNATIONAL ECONOMIC CONFERENCE
There is also included in the bill an authorization for a permanent international economic conference, the principal purpose of which is to discuss tariff and trade problems. No statement is made of the number of members that shall be appointed to represent the United States, what their compensation shall be, the length of service, how they may be removed, or the cost of such conference. The manner of their appointment is left in doubt. There exists in the League of Nations organization a group or groups of similar character. The other nations will not, in all probability, create a new agency, but will expect that any group appointed to represent the United States shall sit with those now existing in the League of Nations organization, to discuss the domestic questions of the United States. We have always regarded the protective tariff as a domestic question. We can see no reason why other nations should be asked or permitted to propose what policy we should pursue in order to foster our agriculture, provide employment for our Tabor, and develop our industrial and mercantile enterprises. If such a conference is to be effective, conclusions should be determined by it, to which the United States should subscribe or reject. Should we subscribe, we have admitted our willingness for other nations to advise us upon our domestic policies; should we refuse, we have set the world in opposition to us,
and to no good purpose. Washington's advise that we should attend to our own affairs is the way of wisdom.
We were informed that treaties do not deal with tariff rates. good reason has been assigned why we should now abandon our traditional policy, and by the means proposed in section 4, open the way that has heretofore been closed because of its inherent dangers.
It is the settled policy of the Republican Party that our debt settlements with other nations shall not be disturbed by remission, scaling, or reconsideration. Section 4 interdicts the representatives from the United States from discussing this question. We, too, do not believe that this should be done by them or any other body representing the United States. Yet who believes that in such an economic conference representatives of other nations will abstain from urging a question of major importance to them, and from insisting that some action regarding such debts is a consideration in any action to be taken? That is to say, this bill invites a discussion of debt readjustment and sets the arena for that purpose.
The United States has always intended and now intends to use its best endeavors to live in amity and concord with her sister nations, attending efficiently to her own affairs, and wishing others progress and prosperity.
To provide in the present unsettled state of the world an opportunity for continued discussion of matters in which we do not intend to yield is not sound policy.
The majority of the Committee on Ways and Means, by amendments eliminated some important provisions from the bill. One more motion—that to strike out all after the enacting clause--would have
greatly improved it. Altogether it shows haste in preparation. The · notice of the hearings was too short for the country to respond, so only
two witnesses, other than representatives of Federal departments, appeared. Why this precipitation in the case of a bill in the enactment of which, time was not a factor? It is not an emergency measure. We can see no utility in or necessity for the legislation.
We therefore earnestly recommend that the bill be defeated, and believe the best interest of all concerned and of the country will be conserved by such rejection. W. C. HAWLEY.
HENRY W. WATSON.
CARL R. CHINDBLOM.