WASHINGTON — Werner Enterprises President and CEO Derek Leathers feels so good about the Republican tax overhaul that he came to the White House on Thursday to help President Donald Trump promote it.
“Tax reform has already produced real benefits at Werner,” Leathers said after being introduced by Trump at an event in the Rose Garden.
The Sarpy County-based company is increasing annual compensation to its truckers by $24 million total, averaging more than $2,400 each for its 9,500 drivers, Leathers said.
Thursday’s event came as Republicans nervously eye this fall’s midterm elections. The GOP’s strategy for holding on to congressional majorities is rooted in promoting those tax cuts and their effect on the economy and individuals.
Many Democrats, meanwhile, have argued that the tax package’s benefits will primarily go to wealthy Americans and corporate interests while reducing the funding available for government programs and sending the federal budget deficit skyrocketing.
Leathers told The World-Herald that the total amount Werner is putting back into its business, from raises to buying new trucks and equipment, will top $300 million and exceed the company’s increased cash flow from the tax cuts.
He said Werner isn’t re-purchasing shares as critics of the tax package have suggested many companies will do.
Leathers brought along three employees, including Kathy Oswald, a single mother from Omaha who works in the company’s driver analytics group and is working on paying for her kids’ college education.
Leathers said driver Marvin Fielder of Omaha is looking to use the extra money for an RV trip to a family reunion.
Driver Quinton Ward of New Orleans said in an interview that he also was heartened to hear Trump talk about improving the nation’s roads and bridges. “I’ve been in areas where it seems like things have fallen by the wayside . . . and it’s taking a toll on not only the drivers but also our equipment,” he said.