Motor Carrier Act of 1980 Statement on Signing S. 2245 Into Law.
President Jimmy Carter
July 1, 1980
I have today signed into law S. 2245, the Motor Carrier Act of 1980. This is historic legislation. It will remove 45 years of excessive and inflationary Government restrictions and redtape. It will have a powerful anti-inflationary effect, reducing consumer costs by as much as $8 billion each year. And by ending wasteful practices, it will conserve annually hundreds of millions of gallons of precious fuel.
All the citizens of our Nation will benefit from this legislation. Consumers will benefit, because almost every product we purchase has been shipped by truck, and outmoded regulations have inflated the prices that each one of us must pay. The shippers who use trucking will benefit as new service and price options appear. Labor will benefit from increased job opportunities. And the trucking industry itself will benefit from greater flexibility and new opportunities for innovation.
The heart of the Motor Carrier Act of 1980 is its call for prompt and sweeping change of the regulations that have insulated the trucking industry from competition since 1935. No longer will trucks travel empty because of rules absurdly limiting the kinds of' goods a truck may carry. No longer will trucks be forced to travel hundreds of miles out of their way for no reason or prohibited senselessly from stopping to pick up and deliver goods at points along their routes.
The Motor Carrier Act of 1980 will bring the trucking industry into the free enterprise system, where it belongs. It will create a strong presumption in favor of entry by new truckers and expanded service by existing firms. It will build upon progress the Interstate Commerce Commission has begun to make in opening opportunities for minorities, for women, and for all truckers who are eager to provide good service at a competitive price.
It will phase out most of the antitrust immunity that has allowed rate bureaus to fix prices. It will eliminate redtape and encourage price competition by allowing trucking companies to price their goods within a zone of reasonableness not subject to ICC review, and it immediately ends antitrust immunity for all rates set through that zone. The premise of the rate-zone provision is that increased competition between truckers will prevent abuses of this pricing freedom. I expect the ICC to implement this legislation effectively and promptly to ensure the vigorous competition needed to make greater pricing freedom work in the interest of shippers and consumers.
The bill broadens the list of agricultural commodities that are completely exempt from regulation and provides greatly eased entry with an absolute minimum of redtape for independent owner-operators who carry processed food. While not as broad as the complete exemption for processed food we had proposed, this provision is still an important procompetitive force in helping to hold down the price of food.
I am also particularly pleased that the bill will improve truck service to small communities and enhance business opportunities for independent truckers.
In brief, the purpose of the legislation is clear. Protective and wasteful regulations are to be replaced wherever possible by competition and the discipline of the free market. These changes will work to the benefit of all consumers.
The Motor Carrier Act of 1980 is important in its own right. It should also be seen in context, as a key part of this administration's sweeping program of regulatory reform. We have done far more than any other administration in history to eliminate excessive or outmoded regulation and to manage more productively the regulations that remain essential.
We fought successfully for domestic and international airline deregulation. As a result, the Civil Aeronautics Board estimates that air travelers saved $2.8 billion in 1978 alone and that the productivity increases that produced those reductions continued throughout 1979, for overall savings in excess of $5 billion. I proposed and have now signed into law reform legislation to remove regulatory barriers that for years prevented more competition and better service in the banking industry. I proposed and Congress is nearing final passage of legislation to remove archaic and superfluous regulation of the railroads.
Where regulations cannot be eliminated, we have established a program to reform the way they are produced and reviewed. By Executive order, we have established a requirement that regulators carefully and publicly analyze the costs of major proposals, which had never been done before. We have required that interested members of the public be given greater opportunity to participate in the regulatory process. We have established a sunset review program for all major new regulations. We have cut Federal paperwork by 15 percent and will cut it further. And we are making real progress in eliminating inconsistent regulations and developing and encouraging innovative regulatory techniques—techniques that are already saving hundreds of millions of dollars while still meeting important statutory goals.
Our comprehensive program of regulatory reform is a major accomplishment, and the trucking bill ranks high among its elements. A year ago, when I proposed trucking reform legislation, many people said that real trucking reform could not be accomplished. That I am signing this bill into law only 1 year later is a tremendous credit to all who worked with me to achieve reform.
I am deeply grateful to those key Members of Congress who worked tirelessly for this legislation. Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Howard Cannon and Senator Bob Packwood exercised superb leadership in developing a comprehensive record of the need to change the present system and in consistently pressing for expeditious reform. Senator Kennedy has been a steady and important supporter of trucking reform and helped to shape our original joint proposal. In the House, the crucial efforts on this proconsumer legislation were made by Public Works and Transportation Committee Chairman Bizz Johnson, Subcommittee Chairman Jim Howard, Chairman Peter Rodino of the Judiciary Committee, Congressman Bill Harsha, and Congressman Bud Shuster.
Tremendous credit is also due to the large number of people outside the Congress, representing consumers, businesses of all sizes, farmers, independent and regulated truckers, and others interested in working toward genuine reform.
Finally, I want to commend Chairman Gaskins and the members of the Interstate Commerce Commission for their support and encouragement of this reform effort. I know I can count on the Commission to take prompt and effective action to bring to the public the benefits of greater competition, greater productivity, and lower prices that this law will provide.
Note: As enacted, S. 2245 is Public Law 96296, approved July 1.
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