Donald Trump has been called the “Hoover of the 21st Century,” and some politicos are starting to draw ever-increasing parallels between the 31st and presumptive 45th POTUS.
If you could ask anyone who lived through the Great Depression what their perception was of then President Herbert Hoover, most would likely say something quite critical. Hoover was an engineer – a believer in the kind of social and fiscal efficiencies that often levied much of the burden of cost-cutting on the working class. He looked inward in a protectionist manner to safeguard the nation, and acted in an authoritative manner to get things done. In short, Herbert Hoover acted much like Donald Trump is promising to act today – decisive, America-first, and intolerant of those who don’t play along. Let’s look at some of the similarities between these two leaders:
Experience: Donald Trump has never held political office before and made virtually all of his money through his vast Trump-branded empire. Hoover made millions in business, too – more specifically, in the coal industry. He was late to the political world – just like Trump, and never held electoral office nor had any military experience. He was much more involved in the political arena than Trump, though, having served as head of the FDA during the first World War, and then as Commerce Secretary for Presidents Harding and Coolidge.
Their Message: One of these two leaders is a filthy-rich, over-the-top leader with virtually no political experience and a penchant for doing things his way… the other is named Donald Trump. These two men may not be identical in all areas, but they’re certainly similarly constructed when it comes to temperament. They both campaigned on a promise of “Making America Great Again,” and each appealed to long-suffering individuals in Rust Belt states who have personally witnessed the decay of American manufacturing. Isolationism, protectionism, and a strong-arm approach to politics are commonalities in each man’s message.
Trade Ideas: One of the most disastrous ideas supported by Hoover in the 1920s and 30s was an increase in trade tariffs between the US and foreign nations. He passed the 1930 Hawley-Smoot Tariff that took the 25% levy on imported goods and doubled it overnight. The result? U.S. exports collectively nosedived from $5.2 billion in 1929 to $1.7 billion in 1933. American farmers were the hardest hit. In an interesting parallel to his predecessor, Trump has suggested a 45% tariff on Chinese imported goods, and 35% on those from Mexico.
Even more interesting: Henry Ford, in 1930, called the Hawley-Smoot tariff “economic stupidity,” while 86 years later Ford Motor Company leaders are actively rallying hard against Trump’s plan to levy tariffs on Mexico – the site of their diesel engine plant and other automobile assembly facilities. The price of a Ford truck would go up astronomically if Trump has his way and Ford doesn’t make changes quickly.
Trump is providing historians with plenty of fodder to create unnerving parallels between himself and Herbert Hoover. History would show that many of Hoover’s policies were directly linked to the disaster that was the 1930s in America. Trump is making some of the leaders in the world of economics take notice – after all, the world doesn’t need another Great Depression.
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