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magnetism are elemental forces producing the infinite variety and utility of nature, so do these represent the formative physical forces of our organized prosperity as a nation. This is the song of education. It means wages for the laborer, bread and clothing and education for his children, and hope for the future. It means that employment of capital which distributes its earnings among the largest number. It means diversity of national industries, which defends us against privations in war and secures our independence in peace. It means national enrichment by buying at home instead of spending abroad. It means accumulation of national wealth, which in turn flows back in a thousand channels to fertilize new enterprises, and develop new sources of wealth. It means the beneficence of boundless charity and the endowment of schools and colleges and churches. It means the progress, the prosperity, the comfort, and the happiness of a people already great, and with a yet greater destiny in the future. [Applause.]
John G. Carlisle [Ky.], of the minority on the Ways and Means Committee, replied to Mr. Kasson.
My objections to this bill do not require a discussion of its provisions in detail, for, while there are many reasons why it should not become a law, the great and controlling reason with me is that in my judgment it is the duty of Congress, in the discharge of its constitutional obligations, and in obedience to the demands of the country, to proceed immediately to revise and modify the existing tariff in the ordinary way. While the intelligent representatives of every industry in the country are almost unanimous in their complaints against the unjust and incongruous provisions of the present system, and many of them are demanding immediate relief from its hardships, it is no time to resort to measures which, however they may be intended, can produce nothing but delay and prolonged agitation to the great injury of every interest involved.
This is not a bill to facilitate the revision of the tariff. It is a bill to pay out of the public treasury about $200 per day for a period of six or seven months, to compensate and defray the traveling and other expenses of a commission to perform duties which we are sent here to perform, and which the people are paying us to perform. It is a bill to create unnecessary offices and to incur unnecessary expenses; and, worse than that, it is a bill to postpone a revision and to take the question, for a time at least, away from the forum to which the Constitution has committed it, and send it to an irresponsible roving commission whose report cannot possibly be considered and disposed of during the existence of this Congress.
MR. KASSON.—I want to ask my friend and colleague upon the committee, if this revision has been a duty demanded of Congress, and can be well done by the Committee on Ways and Means, why has it not been done by them in the last three Congresses, when men of the gentleman's views were in power!
MR. CARLISLE.- I will state in reply to the gentleman a fact very well known to him and to the whole country, that there never has been a time since this House came under the control of the Democratic party when there has not been a very large majority on this side of the House in favor of revising the tariff system; and the efforts in that direction have been defeated in every instance by an almost unanimous vote on the other side of the House, acting in conjunction with a small minority on this side. The records of Congress bear me out in this assertion.
Mr. Chairman, if this measure shall be passed it requires no gift of prophecy to foresee that there will be no revision of the tariff or any relief from its admitted hardships in particular instances for the next two or three years. All legislation must be suspended, and all consideration of the subject must be postponed until these executive appointees have informed the legislative department what its duties are, and then we are to be graciously permitted to resume our constitutional authority to determine how our own constituents shall be taxed.
What is this wandering commission to do? Is it to assume the right to fix and determine the policy of the Government with respect to the amount of revenue it will raise by the imposition of duties on imports, a question which necessarily involves the whole financial policy of the country? It is perfectly evident that it cannot possibly propose a scheme or plan for the revision of the tariff without first determining how much money ought to be raised; and it is equally evident that it cannot even approach the consideration of that question until it has determined when and how the public debt shall be paid, what the ordinary expenditures shall be, what shall be appropriated for pensions, for public buildings, for the improvement of rivers and harbors, and, in fact, occupied the whole ground embraced within the scope of congresisonal power over these great subjects. In view of the magnitude of the interests involved in the determination of the questions which are inseparably connected with the revision of our customs-revenue sys
tem, and especially in view of the favorable circumstances under which we can now enter upon the consideration of the subject, it is not extravagant or intemperate to say that the surrender of our control over it, even temporarily, would be an inexcusable dereliction of duty.
But it may be said, and has been said in substance by the gentleman from Iowa, that the proposed commission can collect evidence in relation to the condition and necessities of the various industries of the country and, without undertaking to decide what amount of revenue shall be raised, or what particular rates of duties shall be imposed, can determine what principles shall or ought to govern us in our legislation upon the subject; that is, whether we shall impose taxes for the purpose of raising revenue for the Government or simply for the purpose of increasing the profits of capital engaged in certain industries, or for both of these purposes. Here again the commission would be treading upon ground which belongs exclusively to Congress. The power to tax the people is the highest prerogative of sovereignty, and the right to determine upon what principles and for what purposes taxes shall be laid and collected—if these be open questions under the Constitution is one which we can neither surrender nor delegate without virtually yielding the principal power itself. I do not assume that the action of the commission would absolutely bind Congress or actually deprive it of any power it now possesses over these subjects, but I do assume, what every gentleman here very well knows, that its report is expected to have, in fact, a controlling influence over our deliberations when we come finally to make a revision of the tariff. If this is not the intention and expectation, then the whole scheme is utterly devoid of any intelligent purpose except mere delay.
There is but one really substantial ground upon which this measure, or any measure of a similar character, can be justified, and that is the assumed incapacity of the majority in Congress to deal with the subject. I believe that this Congress is entirely competent to perform its duties, and I shall not abandon that opinion until a majority of its members have deliberately pronounced their judgment to the contrary. And we who have been chosen by the people, and who are directly responsible to them, are better qualified than any nine men appointed by the President, and responsible to nobody, to determine what shall be the financial policy of the Government, and upon what principles taxes shall be imposed upon our constituents. This is our right and our duty. It must come to this at last, no matter what any commission may say or do, and, in my opinion, we ought to commence this work at once and not leave the present law, with all its inequalities and incongruities, to harass and oppress the industries of the country two or three years longer.
Under this tariff the rates of duty run from less than 10 per cent. all the way up to 780 per cent.; from revenue to protection, and from protection to absolute prohibition. Considerably more than two-thirds of our annual importations are subject to these various rates of duty, the average on all dutiable goods being, for the last fiscal year, nearly 4314 per cent.
Let us inquire as briefly as possible whether such a system as we now have is beneficial to the great body of the people who are compelled to purchase and use manufactured articles, or only a comparatively small number who have invested their capital in particular enterprises. That the prices of such articles are generally lower now than twenty or thirty years ago is un. doubtedly true, but I deny that the protective policy has brought them down. That it has not done so, but that on the contrary it has retarded the process of reduction in this country, is conclusively shown by the fact that the diminution of prices here has not been so great under this system as it has been in other countries, and especially in Great Britain, the country which is constantly held up to us as an example of the evil effects of what is erroneously called free trade. The very object of protection is to increase prices. If it did not have that effect it would be of no possible advantage to the manufacturer, and he would not want it.
We are accustomed to hear some very strange and inconsistent arguments upon this subject from the advocates of the protective policy, arguments which no degree of skill in dialectics can possibly reconcile with each other. We are assured that the inevitable effect of a protective tariff upon an article which is or can be produced at home is to cheapen its price, and at the same time we are assured with equal earnestness that the raw material should be free of duty in order to reduce its cost to the manufacturer and to enable him to use it profitably in his business. In brief, we are told that a duty on the raw material increases its cost to the manufacturer, but that a duty on the manufactured article reduces its cost to the consumer. [Laughter.] When the consumer demands a reduction of duty he is informed that it would not reduce the price to take it off, but when a duty is proposed to be put upon the raw material it is immediately protested against as imposing an unjust charge upon the manufacturer who is compelled to use it.
WILLIAM D. KELLEY [Pa.).—Will the gentleman permit me to suggest that it is raw material which cannot be or is not produced in this country to which that argument is applied ?
MR. CARLISLE.—I so stated a moment ago.
MR. KELLEY.—The duty on wool as raw material operates to benefit our farmers, and counts in the ad valorem duty on woolen goods.
MR. CARLISLE.—The gentleman admits, then, that the duty on wool increases the price of the article. (Laughter.]
MR. KELLEY.—I think not, sir. I think it has led to so great a production that the price, notwithstanding the duty, is down.
MR. CARLISLE.—Now, Mr. Chairman, I am glad the gentleman from Pennsylvania has introduced the subject of wool and woolen goods. Whenever a proposition is made to reduce the enormous duty on woolen goods, the gentleman from Pennsylvania very well knows—no one knows better—that we are invariably met with the statement that a large part of that duty was imposed to compensate the manufacturer for the high rates on wool, which is his raw material; that is, to compensate him for a duty the effect of which, according to one part of the argument, is to reduce the price of the article he has to buy. [Laughter.]
ROSWELL G. HORR [Mich.).—Is the gentleman in favor of repealing the tariff on wool ?
MR. CARLISLE.—Not entirely; but there should be a reduction. I assert that no manufacturer, no friend of the protective system, can be found, notwithstanding his constant reiteration of the argument that the duty reduces the price, who is willing to take the tariff off the finished product and leave it on the raw material. In other words, there is no gentleman to be found among them who has sufficient confidence in his theory to subject it to a practical test. (Laughter.] Notwithstanding their assertion that the imposition of a duty reduces the cost, they all want free trade in raw material, whether it be produced at home or abroad, and free trade in labor, no matter where it comes from. [Applause.]
Now, what is the true policy of legislation upon the tariff and all kindred subjects! I think that a policy which gives to all a fair chance in the great contest for wealth, and for social and political distinction, is the only one that will fully develop the material resources of the country and awaken all the energies of its people; and, more than that, it is the only policy consistent with the principles of free government.