Is Trump Letting Truckers Down On Infrastructure?
Part of the swell of popularity that resulted in Donald Trump’s election win last year came from major industries concerned about government priorities. While it’s true that Trump actually lost the majority of the votes across the country, his electoral college win was largely a result of the business-oriented Midwestern swing states going red. And by some accounts, individuals and families connected to the trucking industry were among those that voted for Trump and his vague but promising agenda.
It’s actually difficult to find definitive studies or counts of trucker and trucker family votes, so take the above statement for what it’s worth. Looking back though, Road Scholar did a very interesting and very thorough write-up of how Trump and Hillary Clinton would impact the industry. While the article did note a few potential flaws with both candidates’ outlooks, it ultimately concluded that Trump “seemed like the stronger candidate” primarily because of his commitment to infrastructure improvement. Naturally, this is something that directly impacts the working environment and to some extent even quality of life for truckers, so it makes sense as a core issue.
A vote for Trump also seemed like a fairly safe and even sensible gamble at the time. We’ve grown used to the U.S. in 2017 by now, but it’s worth remembering that Trump’s win was not just a surprise so much as a total shock to most of the country and the world. Secretary Clinton led in virtually every poll, and was viewed as so much of a sure thing that one betting firm even announced her as the next Commander-in-Chief before the election occurred. That’s about as far out in front as you can be, so while some who voted for Trump did so with the assumption he’d win, many did it as a mode of self-expression. As even the Road Scholar analysis pointed out, Trump’s ideas were often vague – big and exciting, but light on detail – and voting for that sort of agenda is more appealing when it feels like a long shot to begin with.
Now, however, it’s becoming apparent that truckers have at least some reason to question whether a little bit more detail from Trump ought to have been demanded. We posted just recently that the promised infrastructure improvements could finally be on the way, with less bureaucracy in the way and the way being paved, so to speak, for real action. It’s certainly something we’ve begun to hear more about from the White House of late, some nine months in to Trump’s administration, and this will be welcome news to many in the trucking industry and other related businesses.
That said, however, some skepticism is wise. Previously, two of the biggest pieces of the Republican agenda put into action during this administration were healthcare and tax reform. Because of a lack of party cohesion and sporadic, seemingly unhelpful assistance from Trump, both efforts have thus far failed to lead to any kind of legislation. Healthcare failed multiple times, and while the argument over tax reform is ongoing, there are more and more voices in Congress that appear to be questioning whether agreements can be reached.
Theoretically, infrastructure should escape this sort of issue, because it’s far less polarizing than healthcare or tax reform. Indeed, it’s one of the few points upon which Trump and Clinton actually more or less agreed during the election! It’s nice to imagine that Trump and the leaders in Congress could put their heads together and come up with a sensible and effective plan that the whole country could get behind.
It’s also possible, however, that once again a lack of detail in a campaign promise or proposal may result in difficulty passing legislation or reform. A fairly recent take on the push for infrastructure suggested that the overall package could be spread too thin. With the overarching plan calling for about $1 trillion in infrastructure investment over the course of 10 years, it appears that a lot of different interests are fighting for a piece of the pie, so to speak. It’s conceivable either that specific demands actually exceed the amount called for; it’s also possible that that so many different small projects wind up being part of the package that meaningful repairs and updates in key areas don’t go far enough.
This is not to say the effort has failed just yet – far from it. But given how things have gone so far with this administration, there are some worrisome signs that once more a lofty promise could be derailed because of a lack of foundational plans and specifics.