Trucking Experts Warn Biden’s Policy Agenda Will Crush Small Fleets, Force Consolidation
Washington D.C. – As President-Elect Joe Biden will be sworn into office this week some trucking small business experts are expressing deep concerns about the survival of many independent contractors (I/C) in the months ahead.
Joe Biden will become the 46th President of the United States when he takes the oath of office on Wednesday, January 20.
Among a host of promises, Biden campaigned on rolling back the historic Trump tax cuts, increasing taxes on businesses, as well as returning to the Obama-era hyper-regulatory environment that saw the Federal Register grow to an an all-time high page count in 2016.
“It’s a very dark day for small business in general not just for trucking,” David Owen, president of the National Association of Small Trucking Companies (NASTC) recently told Transportation Nation Network (TNN). “I’m pretty discouraged. I don’t know how anybody can think an anti-capitalist agenda can be good for transportation.”
Owen has lived through many ups and downs during his more than 40 years of experience helping small trucking businesses.
He says if Biden is successful in implementing his climate policy agenda, which includes passing cap-and-trade legislation to crack down on carbon emissions producers, ending fracking on federal lands, and canceling the permit on the Keystone XL pipeline, fuel prices will skyrocket.
Recent past chairman of the Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) and 45-year trucking executive, Dan Doran, agrees that fuel costs will rise and the impact will be felt quickly.
However, even more troubling to Doran is the prospect of a dramatic increase in the motor carriers’ liability insurance minimum requirement.
Last year, the Democratically-controlled U.S. House of Representatives passed the the Moving Forward Act (MFA-HR 2), which raised the minimum from $750,000 to $2 million.
It died in the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate, but the political landscape has substantially shifted since that time.
Now Democrats have majorities in the U.S. House and Senate along with Biden in the White House.
“Oh, it’s going to happen,” Doran predicted. “The only question is how high will it go?”
According to multiple other sources TNN has spoken with, the negotiations could begin at more than $4 million.
“It could go to $4 million really easy,” Doran surmised. “We had a sympathetic Trump Administration for the last four years that kept that from happening, but now, who knows?”
Further, Doran candidly assessed that a number of powerful mega carriers will seize on the Democrats’ penchant for regulation and loyalty to trial lawyers in an effort to reshape the trucking industry in their favor.
Those efforts will include pushing hard for a significant increase in the liability minimum in order to force consolidation in the driver market.
“Big carriers want the $4 million or more because they carry it already and want everybody else to have to do the same. They are using it as a reason to push competition out of the game,” he said.
If it comes to pass, Doran says that is exactly what will happen.
“There’s going to be a lot of small companies who won’t be able to afford it. They are going to lease on with somebody and become part of a bigger fleet. It’s just going to mean more consolidation all the way down,” Doran asserted.
“They are doing everything they can to eliminate competition,” he stated.
Both men did offer some advice to I/Cs who will likely soon be forced to reckon with the increased costs and regulatory complexities.
“Start talking to your customers now about what’s going on and make sure you have a good fuel surcharge in place,” Doran advised.
“Call your legislators,” Owen urged.
Moreover, both men preached patience for company drivers who might be considering making a move to become an I/C.
“If I was a company driver right now, I wouldn’t go out and buy a truck because we may be in for a big sh-t show in the next 6 to 12 months,” Doran warned.
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