‘Late Night’s’ Seth Meyers ‘checks in’ on Trump and trucking

August 14, 2019

Greg Grisolano


Tuesday night’s episode of “Late Night with Seth Meyers” turned its attention to the trucking industry, and whether or not President Trump has kept promises he made to American drivers that they would prosper under his administration.

In his segment called “The Check-In,” Meyers goes on for more than 7 minutes, looking at three areas of policy from the Trump administration and the impact on truckers. Taxes, tariffs, and hours of service.

If you’re a regular viewer of the show, Meyers’ conclusion about whether or not Trump has kept his promises probably won’t surprise you. The host has been a persistent and vocal critic of the administration from a policy standpoint as well as being deeply critical of the president’s personal conduct.

But what the show gets right is at least some of the critique of policy with respect to trucking, and the adverse impact it can have on drivers.

For example, when it comes to the taxes portion, there’s no spin here. Company drivers felt the pinch of losing their per diem deductions, something OOIDA predicted would happen. The Association sent out a letter in January warning Congress there could be a “significant impact” for company drivers.

Land Line interviewed two company drivers for a July feature who talked about seeing a swing several thousand dollars in their tax bills following the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. The change to the per diem deduction did not affect owner-operators or leased drivers.

Sure, Trump’s tax changes also doubled the standard deduction, but as OOIDA President Todd Spencer noted in his January letter to lawmakers, the per diem deduction for meals and other expenses “could total well over the standard deduction of $12,000 for a driver who spends 250 days on the road annually – a working schedule that is not uncommon in our industry.”

Trump’s trade battles have generated uncertainty in the trucking market throughout much of 2019, including weak truckload rates and higher financing costs that have negatively affected carriers. Freight forecasting service FTR predicts conditions will remain negative in 2020 for the industry.

The hours-of-service changes are one area where drivers should have little to complain about to the Trump administration however (depending on how much of the just-released proposed rule change ends up making it into the final version). Greater flexibility in hours of service is something real drivers have been saying they want for years. Trump’s transportation cabinet team has delivered a potential reform that should provide truckers the relief they’ve been seeking.