Congress Should Seize Golden Opportunity to Cut Tariffs

This week, the House of Representatives is poised to pass the American Manufacturing Competitiveness Act of 2016, a bipartisan bill that will pave the way for billions of dollars worth of tariff reductions via Miscellaneous Tariff Bills or MTBs.  Because “tariff” is simply another word for “tax,” this is a significant victory for taxpayers. In fact, according to the National Association of Manufacturers, passing an MTB will generate nearly $1.9 billion in annual economic growth. Dozens of manufacturing companies from across the nation have spoken about the great importance of MTBs to remaining globally competitive while providing thousands of jobs for American workers.

However, despite its substantial economic benefits and broad support from free market organizations and lawmakers, the bill has drawn serious concerns from a couple conservative groups. Their beef? The legislation isn’t sufficiently “bold.”

There’s no question that the bill is imperfect. As its conservative critics point out, an ideal process would cut additional tariffs and do so in a permanent, rather than temporary, fashion. The bill’s author, Ways & Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) implicitly acknowledges these shortcomings by including a provision that calls upon the U.S. International Trade Commission to issue a report to Congress on tariffs that ought to be permanently cut or eliminated. Hopefully, that will create a foundation for more trade liberalization in the future.

While we’d like to see a bigger, bolder push toward tariff reductions, this is an all-too-rare opportunity for Congress to cut taxes and generate economic growth in a bipartisan fashion. Lawmakers would be foolish to let the perfect be the enemy of the very good, which is why the vast majority of free market proponents strongly support the legislation. Lawmakers should promptly pass this bill and then move on to the next fight for lower tariffs and freer international commerce.