After years of negative votes in Congress and the opposition of the American people, on Oct. 21 Barack Obama allowed the first Mexican truck to cross the border at Laredo, Texas, and head north to deliver door-to-door service of its industrial equipment. This was implemented by an agreement quietly signed by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in Mexico City on July 6 with Mexico's secretary of Communications and Transportation.
Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., calls this deal a major anti-jobs program saying, "We're literally taking good jobs here in America and passing them over the line to Mexico." Todd Spencer, executive vice president of the Independent Drivers Association, a non-union trade association, said 100,000 trucking jobs will be lost.
The Mexican company that won the distinction of being first-in-line to cross the border was Transportes Olympic. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration immediately granted it "permanent operating authority," instead of making the company abide by the specified 18-month waiting period, which means Transportes' trucks will not have to be inspected at the border every time they cross.
FMCSA announced that all Mexican trucks participating in this project will be given Electronic On-Board Recorders equipped with global positioning capabilities and paid for by the U.S. taxpayers. FMCSA also announced that U.S. trucks must install similar equipment at their own expense.
U.S. taxpayers are also being required to pick up the cost of replacing old mufflers on dozens of Mexican trucks at a cost of $1,600 each, while U.S. truckers must buy their own mufflers. The excuse is that this will improve air quality on our highways.
But EOBRs and mufflers are only part of the expensive regulations hitting U.S. truckers. Obama has imposed new fuel-efficiency regulations, new emissions targets and new safety regulations.
The large trucking firms may be able to absorb the cost, but independent truckers will be hit hard. If they can't afford to buy compliant rigs, they will have to cease operation.
It's apparently Obama's conscious policy to disfavor small trucking firms by regulatory favoritism. It's also Obama's policy to favor Mexican trucks with U.S. taxpayer handouts.
The chatter in Washington is about creating jobs for Americans and cutting spending. However, Todd Spencer says, "this program does exactly the opposite for both" and will "jeopardize the livelihoods of tens of thousands of U.S.-based, small-business truckers" as well as "undermine the standard of living for the rest of the driver community."
Phyllis Schlafly is a national leader of the pro-family movement, a nationally syndicated columnist and author of Feminist Fantasies.
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