Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are on opposite sides of most of the subjects that concern the trucking industry in general. A recent Overdrive magazine survey of drivers revealed that most supported Trump, for his outspoken stance against regulation and his commitment to repairing the nation’s infrastructure.
Which aspects matter most to the industry – and what do the candidates have to say about them? We’re looking at a variety of topics that matter for trucking in 2016 and beyond, including:
- Infrastructure, including road repair and traffic
- Energy and regulation, including fuel sourcing and the environment
- Minimum wages and if the candidates would require a national increase
- International Trade, including NAFTA and the desirability of imports from countries like China.
For the most part, Hillary Clinton has released more specific plans and details infrastructure, energy and the economy as a whole, while Donald Trump has identified broad, big picture changes but not always provided a breakdown of costs and specific details. The candidates obviously differ in their approach to revealing information about their platforms, but both have come out with strong statements about the industry as a whole.
So, how to the candidates stack up? Here are their stances on the most important trucking industry topics for 2016 and beyond:
Donald Trump has been outspokenly critical of the nation’s roads and infrastructure, “The infrastructure of our country is a laughing stock all over the world,” according to the candidate in an April 2015 Facebook video. “Our airports, our bridges, our roadways—they’re falling apart. It’s a terrible thing to see.”
Fixing airports and roads is a must, according to Trump, who indicates the need for massive Federal spending to shore up this key area. While Trump has been outspokenly derisive about the condition of the nation’s infrastructure and the need for many improvements, he has not specified spending details at this time. The candidate’s awareness and concern about the infrastructure and stated commitment to improving roadways could benefit the industry. While Trump has been vocal about improving highways, bridges and pretty much all infrastructure he has not indicated a need to shift commerce or freight to a rail based model.
Trump recently rolled out an energy plan that focused on reduced regulation and on increased drilling for oil and gas; while these measures are designed to reduce dependence on foreign oil, an abundance of gas and oil would be beneficial to the trucking industry.
In addition to halting new regulation on the energy industry, Trump plans to roll back existing regulation as well, making it easier for businesses and consumers to function. He called some current regulation “outdated, unnecessary, and bad for workers” and stated that regulations deemed “contrary to the national interests” would be rolled back immediately. Fewer regulations and more abundant and affordable fuel would benefit the industry and individual businesses in a variety of ways.
Donald Trump originally supported keeping the Federal minimum wage at $7.25 per hour, but in May 2016 stated that he could see the wage being increased during his presidency. Minimum wage may not impact drivers, but it does impact other roles and positions in the industry.
Trumps tough talk on trade – including calling out China and threatening to add punitive taxation to goods made in the country – appeals too many in the business community, but could lead to issues for those who truck goods to and from ports. Under current law, the president would only be able to level taxes on specific goods. In addition to punitive taxing on imports, Trump has threatened to pull out of NAFTA entirely, or at least demand a relegation with Canada and Mexico. Trumps tough talk and business acumen could benefit the industry as a whole, but those trucking to and from ports could be harmed if the candidate did take a harsh stance on imports.
Clinton’s Infrastructure plan is focused on improving roads, bridges and travel ways on a national scale. While the intended goal is to improve roadways for families and individuals, the trucking industry as a whole could benefit from better quality roads with less traffic. More money budgeted for infrastructure and roads could benefit the industry, but the reduction of traffic could be problematic when implemented. Clinton’s plan includes reducing traffic by repairing aging structures and roads and by offering more public transportation options, cutting down the number of vehicles using highways each day. Clinton’s planned changes would be in addition to, not instead of, the FAST act.
Some of Clinton’s Infrastructure plan focuses on shifting some commerce away from the roadways entirely and utilizing railways and multimodal transport options to reduce the amount of commercial traffic on the nation’s highways. While she is not as invested in focusing on moving business and commercial freight to rail as rival Bernie Sanders, her plan could impact the trucking industry in a negative way. How Clinton’s goals would be accomplished could impact the trucking industry; if businesses are incentivized to choose other delivery methods or even penalized for opting for traditional trucking methods, that could have a negative impact on the industry.
A Clinton presidency could also mean more regulation for an already overburdened trucking industry. Clinton’s stances on clean energy and against fracking and sourcing oil and gas in the USA could harm the trucking industry by making fuel less affordable and accessible. Increased energy regulation could have a variety of punitive effects on the industry and make it more difficult to turn a profit. Most of Clinton’s stances on energy are similar to the Obama administrations, so expect to see more of the status quo for a Clinton presidency. Her goal to reduce oil consumption by a third could lead to even greater regulation and requirements for trucks and vehicles going forward, another potentially harmful turn of events for the industry.
Clinton supports a national minimum wage of $12 per hour and supports local efforts to hike minimums to $15 per hour. Her approach to wages may not impact drivers directly, but will have an impact on other parts and roles in the industry.
Clinton’s approach to and experience with international trade and the global community as a whole would likely maintain the current status quo when it comes to business. While she is not likely to offend trade partners, Clinton has backed trade agreements in the past, including NAFTA and the Trans Pacific Partnership, which many see as detrimental to American businesses in general.
The Bottom Line: Which Presidential Candidate Would Likely Benefit the Trucking Industry
Both candidates agree that the nation’s infrastructure is in desperate need of repair; the main difference in their approach is in the use of increased public transportation and a desire to shift some commercial traffic off of roads entirely. Since Trump wishes to repair the roads without demanding a shift to rail travel for freight, he has an edge when it comes to infrastructure.
The candidates are furthest apart on trade and energy. Trump’s stance on fuel should lower costs and his statements against regulation could be beneficial to an already heavily regulated industry. In contrast, Clinton’s pro-climate stance could prove punitive to those who ship and deliver freight on the nation’s highways using traditional fossil fuels.
Since Trump has not made a clear statement on wages beyond mentioning that they should be raised, there is no way to determine how his minimum wage stance would stack up against Clinton’s proposed $12 per hour.
Trump’s stance on trade could improve the quality of goods coming into the USA and strengthen businesses in general – but his aggressive stance could turn away some international trading partners. Clinton is likely to maintain the status quo and unlikely to have an impact on those trucking businesses that bring freight to and from ports.
Trump’s stances on energy and infrastructure make him more likely to benefit the industry as a whole; while Clinton’s plan seems designed to maintain the current scenario or tighten up regulation for the industry. For most trucking businesses and the industry as a whole, Trump seems like the stronger candidate.