Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke spoke before Congress today. He gave his assessment of the American economy and proposed new potential measures to foster economic growth. The Takeaway has been speaking with Americans about their experiences since the beginning of the recession, and followed up with three on their economic outlooks.
Seventeen years after President Bill Clinton signed the North American Free Trade Agreement, the U.S. and Mexico have finally reached an agreement allowing truckers from both countries unrestricted access to America and Mexico's highways. As soon as the first Mexican truck is allowed to enter the U.S., Mexico will drop tariffs on more than $2 billion of U.S. goods. Harley Helms, a long-haul trucker with Crete Carrier, joins the program with his reaction to the agreement.
WNYC's Transportation Nation recently discovered that the U.S. Department of Transportation has proposed a new rule for long-distance truck drivers. It would require truckers to install a device to monitor the number of hours they drive per day. DOT regulations state that truckers cannot work more than fourteen hours per day — and they can only drive eleven of those fourteen hours. Advocates of the digital monitor worry that drivers violate these rules and simply lie in their handwritten logs. But most long-distance truckers aren't too happy with the new DOT proposition. Harley Helms, long-distance truck driver and Takeaway listener, has had a such a device installed by his employer. He joins us with his take on digital monitors.
Mexican president, Felipe Calderon and President Obama have agreed to allow Mexican truckers on American roads. How do American truckers feel about this latest move? Harley Helms is a long-haul trucker, currently on the road between Kansas City and St. Louis. He says that this change will have a detrimental effect on American drivers, who are already dealing with high fuel prices. He is also concerned that Mexican truckers will work for much lower wages. Harley estimates that he will lose 15-20 percent of his personal business.
After Congress passed the tax cut package last week, the price of oil went up — a sign that traders may be counting on higher demand for gasoline, home heating oil and other commodities as the economy recovers. But is spending more money on gas really the way to boost a fragile economy?