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Jeff Sessions’ Sleeping Bag Protectionism

By Matthew Yglesias  

"Jeff Sessions’ Sleeping Bag Protectionism"

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Another one for the “ideological dissonance” files comes via Sallie James who observes that Jeff Sessions, one of the Senate’s fiercest conservatives, is also a fierce defender of sleeping bag oriented industrial policy:

Under [the Generalized System of Preferences], Bangladeshi sleeping bags that competed with the Exxel Outdoors product were able to enter the U.S. duty-free. On behalf of Exxel Outdoors, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) last year refused to let any renewal of GSP pass that would not remove at least some sleeping bags from the scope of the GSP program (Inside U.S. Trade, Dec. 23).

With the future of the GSP program still uncertain, Kazazian said he is now expanding his Alabama plant in part to put pressure on Congress to either not renew the GSP program, or renew it in a modified form that would exclude imported sleeping bags from its scope.

That an Alabama Senator would be campaigning for higher sales taxes on Bangladeshi-made sleeping bags seems bizarre until you realize that they also make sleeping bags in Alabama. This kind of rent-seeking is unfortunate, but also pretty banal. But as I’ve been saying, what’s so remarkably about Sessions’ selective embrace of high taxes and big government is how dissonant it is with the contemporary conservative movement’s insistence that the United States is facing some kind of ideological Götterdämmerung as the forces of freedom face off against Barack Obama’s sharia socialism.

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