3:20 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: First of all, I want to thank you for your support on healthcare. That’s been great. I know you had a big problem with Obamacare, and everybody, so welcome to the crowd. But I very much appreciate you being here and I very much appreciate your support.
I’m honored to welcome all of the many truckers and the trucking industry leaders to the White House. And I must say, really, you are the leaders. You are the big ones. I’m very impressed I was able to get you — I think it was the White House that was able to get you. (Laughter.)
No one knows America like truckers know America. You see it every day, and you see every hill and you see every valley and you see every pothole in our roads that have to be redone. Every town, every forest, from border to border, to ocean to ocean — it’s true. It’s true. And you love America, and you love the spirit, and we love your spirit. And we want to thank you very much, because — very special people.
Through day and night in all kinds of weather, truckers course the arteries of our nation’s highways. You carry anything and everything — the food that stocks our shelves, the fuel that runs our cars, and the steel that builds our cities. You think I wrote that? (Laughter.) Not bad, is it? (Laughter.) Save that — I want to save that paragraph.
But America depends on you. And you work very hard for America. Many of you spend weeks away from your families doing what can sometimes be a very difficult and dangerous job, to put it mildly. But you take care of yourselves, you look out for your friends, and you don’t stop until the job is done. That’s true.
Obamacare has inflicted great pain on American truckers. Many of you were forced to buy health insurance on the Obamacare exchanges. You experienced a crippling rise in premiums and a dramatic loss in options. And you just take a look at what’s happened to the costs, and it’s incredible. You look at what’s going on with deductibles where they’re through the roof, so essentially you don’t have it because hopefully you’ll never have to use it because you won’t have that kind of injury or sickness.
So you know the problems, and it’s put a lot of the trucking businesses out of business, which is pretty tough. In addition, many union drivers are slated to have their plans taxed to pay Obamacare, and they’ve been against it for a long period of time. And trucking companies that are considered large employers have to offer government-mandated health insurance. You have the mandate that just doesn’t work for them. You’re forced to do things that you don’t want to do.
Today, the House is voting to repeal and replace the disaster known as Obamacare. We’ll see what happens, going to be a very close vote. After we repeal and replace Obamacare — and by the way, it’s close not because Obamacare is good, it’s close — politics. They know it’s no good. Everybody knows it’s no good. It’s only politics, because we have a great bill, and I think we have a very good chance. But it’s only politics.
After we repeal and replace Obamacare, we’re going to do everything we can to make sure truckers stay busy moving American goods made by American companies and workers. Big difference out there now, don’t you think? Big difference.
We will rewrite our broken tax code and fix our terrible trade deals. We will also eliminate job-killing regulations where — you guys are so subject to regulations, and we’re going to free it up. It’s going to be freed up. You’re going to be back to business. And we’ll make sure America’s infrastructure is the best in the world. Right now it’s probably the worst it’s been in 40 years. I have friends in your business, they say trucking from Los Angeles to New York and back, it’s very tough on the trucks — never used to be that way — with the condition of the roads and the highways.
So I look forward to hearing from you. We’re going to have a long talk — although I’m not going to make it too long because I have to get votes. I don’t want to spend too much time with you and then lose by one vote. (Laughter.) Then I’m going to blame the truckers. (Laughter.)
But we’re going to talk for a little while and then I’m going to go back to business. And I appreciate you all being here. And maybe we’ll go around the table, just introduce yourself and your company real fast, and we’ll leave the press stay because I’m sure they’ll be very excited by that.
And let’s go.
MR. CONGDON: Okay. I’m David Congdon, I’m the CEO of Old Dominion Freight Lines. We’re a truckload carrier based in North Carolina, and we operate 8,000 tractors, 25,000 trailers, and do about $3 billion in sales, 19,500 employees.
THE PRESIDENT: Wow, that’s fantastic, David. How do you compare size-wise with the other big ones?
MR. CONGDON: We’re the third-largest in the list of the truckload sector.
THE PRESIDENT: Who is the largest?
MR. CONGDON: The largest is FedEx Freight.
THE PRESIDENT: I see, and they’re here, too.
MR. CONGDON: We have — freighters at the table.
THE PRESIDENT: Where’s FedEx Freight?
MR. DUCKER: Here, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: Very impressive. Oh, you’re central casting, look at that. (Laughter.) Great company.
MR. BURG: Good afternoon, Mr. President. Jim Burg, JBTC Trucking from Macomb County, Michigan — a county you carried well.
THE PRESIDENT: I did.
MR. BURG: First time since 2004.
THE PRESIDENT: Love that state. (Laughter.) Bringing back a lot of jobs, you see what’s happening.
MR. BURG: Started the company with one truck in 1984, built it up to a 90-truck operation. We’re a flatbed carrier that hauls steel and construction materials within Michigan and the Midwest.
THE PRESIDENT: Fantastic. Say hello to Michigan for me.
MR. BURG: I certainly will.
THE PRESIDENT: We like that sound: Breaking news, Donald trump has won Michigan. (Laughter.) You know what, we’re doing even better now because we’ve brought back — Ford is moving back in and General Motors, they’re going to be doing a lot of new plants and thousands and thousands of people coming back into Michigan.
MR. BURG: We’ll be hauling the steel for those plants.
THE PRESIDENT: I know you will, I know you will. Good. Thank you very much.
MR. BURCH: Mr. President, it’s an honor to be here. My name is Kevin Burch. I’m President of Jet Express Trucking out of Dayton, Ohio, a truckload carrier. I’m also this year’s chairman of the board of American Trucking Association. Originally from Flint, Michigan, we were involved with handling a lot of the water, and appreciate all your support in helping us.
THE PRESIDENT: They just gave a check for $100 million to Flint. Think of that whole horrible deal. That’s great political leadership. What a disaster. In order to save a fee, they went to bad water and spent a fortune on pipes and infrastructure. ***
…I’m the president of the Wisconsin Motor Carriers Association. We represent the trucking industry in Wisconsin. There are 50 associations across the entire country ** the umbrella under the American Trucking Association. We have over 1,100 members in our association. There are over 15,000 trucking companies in Wisconsin. And prior to that time, I spent 18 years in the Wisconsin state legislature. And also, Reince Priebus and I are graduates from UW-Whitewater, and have been buddies for about 20 years ourselves. So it’s an honor to be here, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. He’s doing a good job.
MR. NASH: Mr. President, Dennis Nash. I’m the founder and CEO of The Kenan Advantage Group, based in Canton, Ohio. We’re in the tank truck hauling business, primarily fuels and chemicals. We have about 10,000 drivers located in 38 states.
THE PRESIDENT: Great job.
MR. NASH: And I think they have a mutual friend, or had a mutual friend in Charlie Eichholtz (sp).
THE PRESIDENT: Absolutely.
MR. NASH: Yeah, his daughter is still running the company.
THE PRESIDENT: Great guy.
MR. FULLER: Eric Fuller, CEO of U.S. Xpress Enterprises, out of Chattanooga, Tennesse. We’re the second-largest privately-held truckload carrier. We have about 7,000 tractor, 10,000 employees.
THE PRESIDENT: All right. Good job.
MR. SMITH: John Smith, from CRST in Cedar Rapids. Second generation — my dad started the business. Third generation is coming in, so we hope to keep it going. Would like to invite you to Cedar Rapids. We also do a lot of training and bringing in the new blood to the industry, and I think it’s quite unique and would love to get you out there.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, Cedar Rapids was very good to me. You know that, right? So I like Cedar Rapids. Say hello to the people.
MR. SMITH: I will.
MR. SPEAR: Mr. President, I’m Chris Spear. I’m president and CEO of the American Trucking Association. Thanks to you and Mr. Vice President for hosting us here today.
We have one in 16 jobs in this country. And in 29 states, truck drivers are the number one job. So for the 7.3 million employees in the industry, 3.5 million drivers, we have 12 of them here today that have 29.4 million accident-free miles. Safety is our number one priority. And obviously we are here to help you get the job done. We would love to see Obamacare replaced. We love the bill. We want to bring costs down. We want to make our lives and our families better. And we believe this is the proposal to get the job done.
THE PRESIDENT: It’s a great, great proposal. And you’re going to have competitive bidding. You’re going to have those insurance companies going wild for your companies. And you’ll be able to pick the right plan and the right doctor — which as you know, was a big lie. But you’re going to have the plan and the doctor, yeah. And I think we’re doing well. We’ll find out in about three hours.
MR. SPEAR: Absolutely.
THE PRESIDENT: I don’t know why I’m with you. (Laughter.)
That’s all right. Thanks, Chris.
MR. OSTERGARD: Mr. President, it’s an honor to be here. I’m Tonn Ostergaard, president and CEO of Crete Carrier Corporation, a family-owned trucking company in Lincoln, Nebraska. We run a little over 5,000 trucks. And we’re just proud to help you make America great. Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Thank you very much. It’s great. Thank you. Great place — Nebraska.
MR. MCARDLE: Mr. President, Rick McArdle with UPS. I’m the President of UPS Freight, based out of Atlanta. It is the home of 350,000-plus employees here in the United States. We’re just glad to be here.
We’re also proud to be a member of the Truckers Against Trafficking. It’s a tremendous organization that does a great job to help law enforcement try to stop and put an end to human trafficking.
THE PRESIDENT: Great. That’s a big deal. It’s a much bigger problem than people understand. Thank you very much, Richard.
MR. LANGER: Mr. President, Jerry Langer. I’m a chief commercial officer for Langer Transport Corporation — a family business in our 83rd year. My two brothers and I are third generation. We are a liquid tank truck carrier, and work with raw materials and for the largest producers in the country for manufacturing.
And my grandfather came over from Russia, turn of the century, and started his business by being a handyman and carrying things around — bought a horse and buggy, and one truck. And today we have 1,200 trucks on the road. And love what we do — 18 states — and we want to be a partner with you, and keep growing your plan and your goals here. So thank you very much.
THE PRESIDENT: You’re going to be loving it. Thank you very much.
MR. DUCKER: Mr. President, Mike Ducker, with FedEx Frieght. I represent FedEx — about 350,000-plus American employees. And we have 150,000 trucks. We’re the largest LTL provider. And we thank you very much for having us here today. We thank you for including the people that actually do the work, and that make the money for the company. And we thank you for tackling tough issues.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. And your founder is a great gentleman, and a great friend of mine. You know that, right?
MR. DUCKER: Yes, sir. He sends his very, very best to you.
THE PRESIDENT: He is a great one. Thank you. Say hello to him.
MR. LEX: Thank you, Mr. President, for having us. I’m John Lex. I’m and American road team captain. Also a share-the-road professional. I’m also a truck driver for WalMart transportation — been driving for over 30 years, have 2.9 million accident-free miles. And it’s just an honor to be here today. Drive for a small little company out of company named WalMart. (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: Great job.
MR. LEX: Thank you.
MR. PAUL: How you doing, Mr. President. Glad to be here. I’m Charlton Paul — UPS Freight, America’s road team captain, and driving trainer for UPS Freight. This is my 21st year with UPS, and 2.1 million safe miles.
THE PRESIDENT: Fantastic.
MR. PAUL: And I’m depending on you to do great things. I appreciate you.
THE PRESIDENT: Be careful when you leave here now — no accidents. (Laughter.)
MR. PAUL: Knock on wood.
THE PRESIDENT: It’s a fantastic job.
MR. LOGAN: Mr. President, I’m Don Logan. I work for FedEx Freight. I’m from Topeka, Kansas. I’ve been a truck driver for 31 years, have 2.6 million safe driving miles.
THE PRESIDENT: Fantastic. Boy, that’s a lot of miles.
MS. HARTMAN: Rhonda Hartman, Old Dominion Freight Lines — 34 years in the business, 2.7 million miles driving without an accident.
THE PRESIDENT: Fantastic.
MS. HARTMAN: And I say — and a ticket. No tickets either. (Laughter and applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: That’s pretty impressive.
MR. GARCIA: Mr. President, it’s an honor to be here. Ralph Garcia, with ABF Brake Systems — 38 years in the businesses — and I am a proud Hispanic for Trump. You did it. (Applause.)
MR. SIMPSON: Mr. President, Russel Simpson. I reside in Springfield, Ohio where you held a large rally I attended. I’ve been 31 years as a professional driver, and when you get ready to build the wall, I want to haul the first load of concrete — (laughter and applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: What a group. (Laughter.)
MR. TAYLOR: How you doing? Mr. President, thank you for having us here. I’m really proud to be here. My name is Earl Taylor — been in the business 19 years. And unlike some of these guys who are over-the-road drivers, I drive in the cities around the state. And I have 19 years in the business, and 1.2 million miles — in the city. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: They don’t know, that may be tougher.
MR. TAYLOR: That’s much tougher, sir. Much tougher.
THE PRESIDENT: We know about the city. (Laughter.)
MR. FIELDS: I’m Steve Fields. It’s an honor, by the way. I work for Marcy Freight out of Kansas City, Missouri. I’ve been driving 32 years, and I have 3.1 million. It’s an honor to be here.
THE PRESIDENT: Fantastic job.
MR. FIELDS: Thank you. I appreciate you.
THE PRESIDENT: Fantastic job. Boy, that’s a great group of people. I’m more impressed by them than I am with the executives. (Laughter and applause.)
Thank you very much, everybody. Thank you very much.
3:30 P.M. EDT