Trucking and Trump: How Will His Plan Affect Truckers?
Republican Donald Trump pulled off a surprise win in the Nov. 8 presidential election, and he did it with some help from the trucking industry.
A July survey in Overdrive among its readership indicated 75% of driver and owner-operator respondents supported Trump over Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, Libertarian Gary Johnson, and Green Party’s Jill Stein.
While totals aren’t final, the latest numbers suggest Trump got more than $160,000 in contributions from the trucking industry compared to $114,000 for Clinton. Down-ballot Republicans across the country received over $2 million, compared to $430,000 for Democrats.
But what might a Trump presidency mean for trucking operations? Trump has promised to “build the greatest infrastructure on planet earth.” In fact, he has planned to spend at least $1 Trillion on the endeavor.
His campaign website envisions a new plan for a system of roads, bridges, tunnels, airports, railroads, ports and waterways, and pipelines “in the proud tradition of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who championed the interstate highway system.”
How Will Trump Pay for his Infrastructure Plan?
But an analyst notes the policy outline “leans heavily on user fees,” which could ultimately mean more tolling.
Trump's plan is to entice the private sector to join in on the project by giving them large tax credits. However, the tax credits themselves won't be enough for the private sector to join the project; they will want to see large profits. And how will they do that? By building more bridges and toll roads.
In fact, some people are worried that because of the tax credit incentive, the private sector will only want to be involved in making new roads and bridges, instead of investing in the older, existing structures that desperately need to be updated.
And according to the Congressional Budget Office, the private sector has not had much success in building roads in the past. In the past 25 years, there have only been 36 private road projects even attempted. Of those, 14 were actually completed, and 4 either declared bankruptcy or had to be bailed out by taxpayers.
The ATA Meets with Trump
American Trucking Associations (ATA) President and CEO Chris Spear, in a statement congratulating Trump, spoke positively of the plan to improve infrastructure, and said ATA has already met with Trump’s transition team.
“We have already begun meeting with the Trump transition team, and look forward to working closely with the new administration on issues that will allow the trucking industry to continue to grow and move America forward,” said Spear.
Meanwhile, Trump’s pledge to undo the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) could be a tougher sell for the trucking industry, as trucks carry the majority of overland trade with Mexico and Canada and truck makers have assembly plants in Mexico.
Will Trump's Infrastructure Plan Pass Congress?
The real question is whether or not the infrastructure plan will even be approved. Almost exactly one year ago this December, President Obama proposed a $478 billion highway bill to fix the nation's roads over the course of six years.
In case you've been living in a hole the past eight years... you probably know that Republicans in Congress don't like spending money on projects that will add to the deficit.
Well Congress eventually agreed to pass the bill, but lowered the amount of spending significantly... to about $300 billion. So it's hard to envision a scenario where the same Republican-led Congress is excited to spend a $1 trillion, unless Trump is able to convince them he has a great way to pay for it.
And the "user-generated fees" -- or, as they are also known by their uglier name, "tolls" -- might be that plan to pay for it.
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