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Club for Growth Gets History As Well As Economics Backwards
Alan Tonelson
Thursday, June 21, 2007
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Urgent memo to the free market ideologues at The Club for Growth: Get the idea of basic historical sequences right before advising the U.S. government and your fellow Americans how to run the nation’s affairs.

In a June 8 “Key Vote Alert,” the Club announced that it would subtract “heavily weighted” points on its annual Congressional scorecard for “the sponsorship, or co-sponsorship of all bills introduced in the House and Senate that impose, or threaten to impose, protectionist policies towards China.”  The Alert specified that the House’s Ryan-Hunter currency manipulation bill and its Senate counterpart, Stabenow-Bunning-Bayh, along with the Davis-English bill that would enable anti-subsidy tariffs to be levied against non-market economies like China’s, would be included.

This is all standard fare for the globalization cheerleaders, many of whom seem to believe that free market practices will be adopted by serial protectionists like China if Americans merely wish for it hard enough.  But what really had us scratching our heads was the Club’s observation that, “The current protectionist rhetoric is eerily reminiscent of that which led to the Smoot-Hawley Act.  That legislation triggered the stock market collapse of 1929, devastated the U.S. economy, and exacerbated the Great Depression.”

The problem is that Smoot-Hawley was enacted in June, 1930 – eight months after the Black Tuesday stock market crash of October 29, 1929.  Blaming the crash on the bill is like saying the discovery of America prompted Columbus to set sail, or that our alarm clocks rang this morning because we woke up.

Congratulations to the Club, however, for finding a new niche in Washington politics and lobbying. Any number of economically reactionary groups want to turn the clock backwards.  The Club for Growth looks like the first to believe that the clock actually does run backwards.

Source: “Key Vote Alert – China and Protectionism,” June 8, 2007, The Club for Growth,

Alan Tonelson is a Research Fellow at the U.S. Business & Industry Educational Foundation and the author of The Race to the Bottom: Why a Worldwide Worker Surplus and Uncontrolled Free Trade are Sinking American Living Standards (Westview Press).