Low-cost footwear could become even less expensive if U.S. Sen. Gordon Smith has his way.




The Oregon Republican is co-sponsoring bipartisan legislation, dubbed the Affordable Footwear Act, that would eliminate a tax exclusively applied to footwear that largely affects low-income families with young children.




"Parents should not have to pay an invisible tax every time they buy a pair of shoes for their kids," said Smith who co-sponsored the bill with Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash. "Eliminating this outdated tax allows Oregon families to save money while taking care of their children," Smith said.




A similar bill pending in the House has more than 50 co-sponsors.




The nearly 80-year-old tax on footwear imports is aimed at protecting the American manufacturers from often lower-priced foreign competitors.




The import taxes, as high as 67.5 percent, have forced consumers to pay up to 40 percent over the market value of low-cost shoes purchased at such discount retailers as Wal-Mart and Payless Shoes.




"The Affordable Footwear Act of 2007 is responsible tax relief for all Americans," said Kevin Burke, president CEO of the Arlington, Va.-based American Apparel Footwear Association.




Smith's legislation, backed by U.S. shoe manufacturers, would maintain tariffs on specialty shoes manufactured in China, Indonesia and Vietnam but would eliminate the tariffs on lower cost footwear that does not compete with domestic production.




covers politics for the Ashland Daily Tidings. Reach him at csrizo@hotmail.com.