The commoner. (Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-1923, August 13, 1909, Page 3, Image 3

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    The Commoner.
AUGUST 13, 1909
The Tariff in Congress
President Taft Invited a number of senators
to lunch with him at tho White House. Among
these senators were Beveridge, Dolliver, and
Brown of Nebraska. He urged them to get in
line for. the tariff bill.
Speaking in the senate Mr. Bristow of Kan
sas recalled incidents of the last national cam
paign and declared that President Taft in Kan
sas had favored a revision of the tariff down
ward, and he (Bristow) had been elected to tho
senate on that issue. The fact was, he said,
that practically no reduction had been obtained.
"The tax," said Mr. Bristow, "has been taken
off of hides and it has been added to the sole
leather suitcaso that the American citizens buy.
And yet it had been advertised that a reduction
has been made on the leather schedule for tho
benefit of the American citizen.
"Apparently the only thing considered in
formulating the cotton schedule has been tho
greed of the cotton manufacturer of New Eng
land. As a republican senator I will not bo a
party to placing Mr. Taft in the most embarras
sing position in which it is possible for a presi
dent to be placed; that is, to require him either
to sign a bill that is not what was promised the
people, or to compel him to repudiate the action
of a majority of his party in both branches of
the congress by a veto. He has, in substance,
appealed to this congress to keep faith with tho
people, but in effect it is a bill to ignore that
appeal. I love the president. He has honored
me with his friendship. I am devoted to tho
welfare of his administration and for one, I will
never vote to send him a bill for approval that
is a' violation of his party's pledges, and which
Is also In my judgment fundamentally wrong
and in many of its details iniquitous.
"I set up no standard for other senators.
Every man should voto as his conscience and
judgment dictate. But I feel that had I sup
ported this bill I would be recreant to my duty
as a senator and unfaithful to the people who
sent me hero to represent them, and I can not
do it."
Regarding the exclusion of democratic mem
bers of the conference committee Senator Daniel
said a practical fraud had been committed upon
both houses of congress.
"The country stands, at this present moment,
between the gallows and the ground," declared
Daniel in commenting on the methods of tho
majority. "I hope mercy may be sought, and
may be found. I charge that the senate is ap
parently in the control of lynch law."
Soon after the bill reached tho senate several
Jokers were discovered. The situation was de
scribed in a Washington city dispatch printed
in the Omaha World-Herald as follows:
"Cattle state senators discover that the
phraseology of leather schedule is not according
to the agreement. They declare the reduction
of duty applies only to shoes that are made no
where in the world. A canvass of the senate
by 'regulars' showed that the bill would be
defeated. There is a great rounding up of 'reg
ulars' in Aldrich's room and elsewhere and con
sultations with the president, and the resolu
tion for a reassembling of the conference com
mittee: Several mistakes have been discovered
in the bill which must be corrected. The bill,
as changed, would have to be submitted again
to the house. The attitude of President Taft
with respect to the alleged 'joker' is the sub
ject of conflicting reports."
The tariff commission provision of the repub
lican tariff bill is described in an editorial print
ed in the Chicago Record-Herald, (Rep.) as
"Congress, with the exception of the 'insur
gents,' is determined that the present tariff shall
not be the last based on guesswork and the
clamor of 'interests.' The spectacle which has
disgusted the overwhelming majority of the
people is one after the standpatter's own heart.
Platforms may talk about scientific tests and
ascertained facts; the average politician finds
in juggling, bargaining and darkness his natural
"The so-called tariff commission provision as
Senator Aldrich drew it at tho instance of the
president, backed by the liberal manufacturers
and public opinion, was by no means a model
of strength and generosity. It was acceptable
only as a germ, seed, promise. But In the
conference, as the correspondents told us, it
had not a single friend, some of the conferees
dreading light and others imagining 'usurpation'
behind ,i, and the poor, thin, innocent para
's 'i - - '
graph was subjected to successive surgical oper
ations. The clauses which spoko of .'informa
tion useful to congress' and of investigations
'into the production, commerco and trado of
the United States and of foreign countries, and
all conditions affecting the same' were ruthless
ly cut out. How, pray, can information be use
ful to congress when it profors ignorance?
After tho first operation tho president hu
morously remarked that, with a little executive
ingenuity, tariff information of importanco to
the president could bo rendered usoful that
is, compulsorily enlightening to congress. Of
course a president with goods to dolivor can
deliver them in tho 'message vehicle and maka
things embarrassing to the perverse and be
sotted. "How does the case stand now, after tho
second major operation? The whole provision
reads as follows:
" 'To secure information to assist the presi
dent in the discharge of tho duties imposed upon
him by this section, and tho officers of the gov
ernment in the administration of the customs
laws, the president is hereby authorized to em
ploy such persons as may bo required.'
"Tho intention of the conferees is manifest.
They wished to limit the investigation authorized
to the maximum-minimum feature, to tho de
termination of the existence or absence of 'un
due discrimination' in foreign tariffs. It may
bo that the paragraph can still bo vitalized and
broadened by 'interpretation,' but all that could
verbally be done to hamper the president, to
'screw the lid on,' to shut out light, has been
done. Whether the effort fails or succeeds, tho
exhibition itself is disgraceful."
Senator Cummins of Iowa and Daniol of Vir
ginia occupied the time of the senate largely
on the day before the adoption of the confer
ence report. Tho Associated Press ays:
Conferences among senators were numerous.
Several times Vice President Sherman found it
necessary to call tho body to order and Insist
that conversation bo discontinued.
The effect of- the maximum and minimum pro
vision of the measure as agreed on by conferees
was the chief subject of discussion during tho
session. Senator Beveridge, quoting tho re
marks of Chairman Aldrich, undertook to show
that the senator Interpreted the language as re
ported by tho conferees as practically guaran
teeing all the results that could be obtained
through the instrumentality of a tariff commis
sion. He provoked a prompt opposition to that
view by Senator Hale who, at great length arg
ued that exactly the opposite purpose was in
tho minds of the house conferees whose view
had been adopted. He insisted that they care
fully avoid giving any authority to the presi
dent by which he could gather Information on
which another revision of the tariff could bo
based. From the commltteo on finance, Mr.
Aldrich reported a concurrent resolution by
which as soon as the conference report has been
reported on, the hide and leather schedule will
be corrected, it is intended to meet tho views
of western senators who demanded lower duties
on products manufactured from leather.
Mr. Cummins announced his determination
to vote against the bill. "I am opposed to the
conference report and to tho bill which It em
bodies because it is not such a revision of the
tariff as I have expended the best years of my
life fighting for, and It is not a fair and reason
able performance of the promise of our plat
form," he said, and added: "This is no court
of bankruptcy, and I am not willing to accept
ten cents on the dollar in discharge of the obli
gations of the republican party. It has always
been and Is now, a solvent organization and it
is not only able, but its rank and file will in
sist upon paying its debts in full. Its pledges
will be redeemed at par and although the blind
ness of some of its leaders may at this time
postpone the day of redemption, I shall await
with patience, confidence and serenity the hour
at which it will keep full and complete faith
with the American people."
He expressed his admiration and applause
for tho courage and persistence of the president,
"in attempting to secure, and to a degree in
securing, lower rates in the range of dispute
between the house and the senate.' He said:
"The range was very narrow and the president
has done all that one man could do for the bet
terment of the bill."
Speaking "with the full consciousness that
the president will sign the bill, and that it will
become a law with his assont," ho rcqognlzod, ha
said, that thero Is a fundamental difforenco be
tween tho voto powor and tho voting power,
"An executlvo ought not," ho said, "to voto a
mcasuro simply becauso ho would have voted
against It had ho boon a member of tho legisla
tive body that passed it.
"I havo always admitted," said tho sonator,
"that with respect to thono commodities of which
we are capablo of supplying tho homo demand,
duties however high do not harm so long as
thero oxlst effectual competition botween our
own producers; and I repeat that admission
now. I havo seen, however, competition In tho
most important fields of production grow weaker
and weaker until It has been easy to porcolvo
that with many things prices havo not been
fixed by tho fundamental rnd essential law of
commorco, but havo been fixed by the arbitrary
will of tho producer, and solely with referonco
to tho utmost profit that trade would bear.
"Under these conditions it seomed to me that
excessive duties would necessarily b ceo mo a
shield for avarice and greed. It secmod to mo
that duties should bo so adjusted as to provont
the domestic producer from raising his price
above a fair American level without exposing
himsolf to foreign competition.
"These were tho only reasons known to mo
for a revision of tho tariff; and I will never
voto for a revision that does not follow, or at
tempt to follow, these linos of economy
Tho tariff has been reduced, Mr. Cummins
said, on Iron and steel products moro than on
any other schedule in tho bill. "And yet," ho
declared, "so far as tho peoplo who buy iron
and steel are concerned they would havo been
quite as well off if thero had been no reduction
whatever." Ho attacked tho various schodules
of tho measure as affording no relief to the
American consumer.
Challenging tho statement by Mr. Cummins
that thero had been no substantial reduction in
tho bill, Mr. Aldrich declared that thero had
been 500 reductions of rates. It would bo Im
possible, ho said, to show that these ratea wore
above a reasonable protective point.
Mr. Cummins having Invited tho Rhode
Island senator to visit him In Iowa, to help him
convince tho people that theso rates wero only
high enough to be protective, Senator Bailey
suggested that when those two senators "per
form in doublo harness," ho wished to rocoivo
an invitation to witness tho ovent.
Drifting Into a discussion of policies, Senators
Cummins, Aldrich, Bailey, Dick, Beveridge and
Smith of Michigan, entered upon a sort of ex
perience meeting concerning tho political issuca
of 189G. Mr. Aldrich insisted that the misrep
resentation of tho McKinloy tariff bill first
caused the defeat of the republican party and
then resulted in tho nomination and election
of Mr. McKinloy.
"It was the money question that controlled
that campaign," suggested Mr. Beveridge.
"It was the absence of money that controlled
it," facetiously suggested Mr. Smith of Michigan.
"On our side," Interposed Mr. Bailey.
Concluding his remarks Mr. Cummins reiter
ated that he would vote against the conference
Contending that thero was no raw material
in this country, Mr. Elklns expressed regret that
the so-called free raw material campaign had
ever been started. Labor had been expended
upon these articles called raw material, and ho
believed that whenever they were subjected to
foreign competition they should have been pro
tected by the tariff.
Senator Warren next took the floor and en
tered upon an extended denunciation of the hldo
and leather schedule. He called on Senator
Aldrich, Galllnger and Dick to say what thoy
thought of the doctrine of free raw material.
All declared that they did not approve of the
idea of admitting hides free of duty. Very sim
ilar replies were received from Senators Bris
tow, Dolliver, Oliver and Flint, who were called
on to state their views.
Never bofore had a tariff bill passed under
. such a storm of disapproval, said Mr. Bailey,
speaking in opposition to the report.
"You hope," he said, addressing the republi
cans, "that with tho returning tide of prosperity
the people will forget the bad features of tho
He declared that the present bill would not
Improve conditions, although the republicans
would endeavor to spread the idea that It would.
Crossing the aisle and directing his remark
specifically to Mr. Aldrich, Mr. Bailey declared
that nobody believed In the doctrine of free raw
material, adding that the Rhode Island senator