The Mongrel Tariff was a patchwork bill that called for an overall 1.5 percent reduction in tariffs. The change resulted from recommendations of a commission appointed by President Arthur. The commission recommended duties be cut sharply. Special interests intervened. As a result the final bill only reduced tariffs by a small percentage. Passage of the bill marked the beginning of a on-going struggle over the issue of tariffs.
During this time period the United States had an average tariff (taxes on incoming products of between 30-40%. Most experts at the time understood that it was no longer in the US interests to have such high tariffs. President Chester Authur appointed a commission to make recommendation on what the Tariff level should be. The committed returned a recommendation that tariffs should be substantially lowered. However once the decision was submitted to Congress, special interests who wanted to protect specific industries gutted any proposal. In the end the law that was passed by Congress officially the Tariff of 1883, but the Mongrel Tariff Act by its critics was mix of various changes that made little sense an overall reduced tariffs by a mere 1.5% on average. Arthur was not happy with the results and ordered the State Department to pursue individual agreements with countries to reduce mutual tariffs.