More Than 1,100 Economists Join NTU To Oppose New Tariffs and Protectionism

More than 1,100 economists have joined with National Taxpayers Union in a letter to President Trump and Congress warning against new protectionist trade policies. That group includes 15 Nobel laureates, and former economic advisers to the Reagan, Clinton, Bush and Obama Administrations. In an echo of a letter organized in 1930 against the Smoot-Hawley tariffs that exacerbated the Great Depression, the economists write, 

Americans face a host of new protectionist activity, including threats to withdraw from trade agreements, misguided calls for new tariffs in response to trade imbalances, and the imposition of tariffs on washing machines, solar components, and even steel and aluminum used by U.S. manufacturers… we are convinced that increased protective duties would be a mistake. A tariff war does not furnish good soil for the growth of world peace.

NTU’s Free Trade Initiative director Bryan Riley said, “very few policy areas generate as much consensus among professional economists like free trade does. Protectionism is flat-earther economics.”

NTU is holding an event to unveil the letter and submit it to the White House and Congress on Thursday, May 3 at the National Press Club.

This letter to Congress and the White House comes on May 3, the anniversary of the economists’ letter in 1930 warning against the Smoot-Hawley tariffs. The Smoot-Hawley tariffs were intended to protect American jobs, but the consensus among economists is that they prolonged and worsened the Great Depression.

“Tariffs are never good, and a necessary evil to be used as sparingly as possible,” said founding signatory Douglas Holtz-Eakin, President of the American Action Forum and former director of the Congressional Budget Office.  “The anniversary of the Smoot-Hawley tariffs is a useful reminder that even seemingly well-intentioned tariff policies can snowball into damaging trade wars that no country can win.”

The Trump Administration has been playing games with the tariffs that were announced earlier this year. This week, it was announced that key allies would get a 30-day reprieve from the threatened tariffs - which the New York Times reported “annoyed,” rather than relieved, American allies.

“This letter is absolutely necessary at a time when the White House is considering the implementation of new tariffs that would harm Americans at home and other economies abroad,” Riley said. “The voices of these economists should be heeded by Congress and the Trump Administration.”

For more information on the letter, including a complete list of signatories, visit or contact Kevin Glass, NTU Vice President of Communications, at 703-299-867- or