President Donald Trump took time from his busy schedule Thursday to promote recent changes to the tax code passed by Congress last December in a speech in the Rose Garden. He had the help of "everyday" Americans, including two from the trucking industry.
The move comes on the heels of reports that the tax plan has not been as popular with Americans as Republicans have hoped and a recent Congressional Budget Office assessment that it will balloon the U.S. deficit to $1 trillion by next year.
To bolster his argument that the tax plan is indeed improving the lives of both American workers and businesses, the president invited several “everyday” Americans to speak about how they have benefited in their personal and professional lives.
Executives and employees from Werner Enterprises, Crete Carrier Corp., and TCW were in attendance to share how the tax cuts have enabled the carriers to increase employee compensation, invest in new equipment, and expand operations.
TCW was represented by President Dave Manning, chairman of the American Trucking Associations, and driver David Livingston; Werner was represented by President and CEO Derek Leathers and driver Quinton Ward, driver Marvin Fielder, and associate Kathryn Oswald; and Crete was represented by CEO and Chairman Tonn Ostergard, Vice Chair Holly Ostergard, and driver Jeff Tetzloff.
Leathers told attendees that recent changes to the tax code have allowed the Omaha, Nebraska-based Werner to invest more than $127 million in new, clean and environmentally friendly trucks and trailers. Additionally, Leathers noted, Werner has been able to invest in its driver corps in the form of pay raises and bonuses, which he said have averaged out to $2,400 per driver since December.
“Mr. President,” Leathers said, “I just want to thank you for your hard work to invest and free up the American economy, our businesses, and the men and women who make it happen.”
Leathers introduced Werner Operation Freedom driver Quinten Ward to speak about how the tax cut has benefited him and his family and allowed them to take a long-sought vacation to Florida.
“It’s such an honor to be here today,” Ward said in his remarks. “This president understands that government doesn’t create jobs. Businesses and people do. The tax reform law puts money back in my pocket. It has a direct impact on me. After leaving the military, I was looking for a good-paying career. And the trucking industry aggressively hires veterans – especially Werner. And when I had the opportunity to work for the Operation Freedom fleet, which emphasizes the hiring of military veterans, I was beside myself. It was a dream come true. Mr. President, you care about truck drivers. And we see that. We cover this country and haul freight that keeps America moving every day. Thank you so much for fighting for us.”
As he shook Ward’s hand, the president remarked, “And as importantly, the roads are getting a lot better, have you noticed? The roads are getting a lot better. The truckers were not too happy with the roads. But they’re getting a lot better.”
ATA Says Trucking's Voices Are Heard
The three fleets are all members of the American Trucking Associations.
“Putting truckers in a position to have their voices heard on important issues is a critical part of what we do at ATA,” said ATA President and CEO Chris Spear.
ATA was a strong advocate for the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and hosted President Trump in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, at an event in October 2017 to rally support behind tax reform. A January 2018 survey of ATA member companies revealed that 50% of carriers were planning to increase wages or offer bonuses as a result of tax reform, and 47% were planning to invest their tax cuts in new equipment, including trucks, trailers and safety technology.
“ATA championed for these tax cuts because, as truckers, we knew full well how they would boost not only our industry, but the larger economy too,” said Manning. “We’re only a few months into them becoming law, yet we can already see their effects in our operations and in a growing economy.”