I couldn’t believe it myself when I first heard it. Did he really just say what I thought he said? I had to play it back several times over to be sure. Yep. There it was, plain as day.
The “he” in question was transportation secretary Ray LaHood, who was testifying before the Senate Commerce Committee about the transportation budget. Hardly exciting stuff, I know, but you can always count on Mr. LaHood to liven up the proceedings.
Someone asked him about the idea of shipping more goods via train and barge as opposed to trucks. LaHood said the administration favors a more cooperative approach, where all modes of transportation – including trucks – work together to deliver freight as efficiently as possible.
Nothing wrong with that. It was what he said next that I had an issue with. LaHood needed an example to back up what he was saying and show how his office has worked with the trucking industry in the past. Here’s the example he chose (and keep in mind this is a direct quote):
“We’re working with the trucking industry on their ability to continue to be competitive. They weren’t particularly enamored of some of the proposals that were being floated around with respect to the Mexican truck – the cross border, uh, but we met with them and we worked those out.”
Excuse me? You worked what out, exactly? And with whom? Which trucking industry did you work with, Secretary LaHood? It certainly wasn’t the same one that I work with. The trucking industry that I work with still doesn’t like the new proposed Mexican trucking program any better than the old program.
You want to know why? Let’s start with jobs. If this program goes through, American truckers will lose jobs. Period. Oh, but American truckers would be able to go down to Mexico and haul loads from there as well. Have you looked at the news from Mexico lately? Drug cartel violence. Kidnappings. It’s not a place I would want to be hauling valuable cargo into.
And while we’re on the subject of safety, let’s just talk about how safe those trucks coming up from Mexico will be. Mexico does not have the same safety infrastructure in place as we do here in the U.S. They just don’t. Oh, but we’re going to solve that by putting Electronic On-Board Recorders into each and every truck crossing the border, right? I see. And who’s going to pay for those EOBRs? Mexico? Guess again. We can’t even pay for our own transportation needs and now we have to foot the bill for Mexico too?
I haven’t even scratched the surface of the problems with this program. Let’s not forget the fact that after 18 months in the program trucking companies from Mexico will get their permanent authority, which means they get to keep operating here even if the program is shut down. And did I mention the Mexican carriers involved in the first pilot program that was shut down will get credit for the time they operated in the U.S.?
So tell us, Mr. LaHood, exactly which of these problems did you resolve and with which trucking industry did you do it? Because I know about 150,000 truckers who would like to have been invited to that meeting.