How a little-known 1980 law slashed pay for millions of truck drivers and created big-box retail as we know it

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An Illinois truck driver in 1940.
An Illinois truck driver in 1940.

Ivan Dmitri/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

  • Today’s network of big-box retailers and online shopping likely wouldn’t exist without the deregulation of the trucking industry 40 years ago this month.

  • The Motor Carrier Act of 1980, passed by President Jimmy Carter, slashed the cost of moving goods by truck.

  • It also eroded one of America’s great blue-collar jobs: truck driving.

  • A truck driver’s salary has decreased by as much as half since deregulation.

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When Larry Heine was a working man he drove a truck eight hours a day. He saw his family every night, owned his home, sent both his kids to college, and took his wife on vacation to Hawaii whenever he could land some overtime.

As a member of the Teamsters, Heine was guaranteed good health care and a pension. He retired at 51, receiving a cake

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millions fret as Republicans threaten to halt $600 weekly lifesaver

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If Donald Trump and Senate Republicans have their way, roughly a week from now, the US will swap an imagined economic problem for a predictably devastating one, economists have warned.

Related: 1.3m more file for unemployment as US economy continues to reel

To keep people safe at home during the pandemic and to support them during the resulting jobs crisis, Congress in March instituted a $600 boost to weekly unemployment insurance benefits. Unless lawmakers step in, the money stops on 31 July.

The money is an unusually robust benefit in a country with a weak social safety net. With it, researchers estimated somewhere between 40% and 68% of US workers could make more from unemployment than they did working, because of the high concentration of job losses in low-wage positions.

Republicans, as a result, have warned of hordes of people “disincentivized” from returning to work. But economists say the real

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As millions lose health insurance, Trump administration offers little help

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President Trump and Seema Verma, the head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, shown at a White House meeting in 2017, have taken few steps to alert consumers to their options for health coverage. <span class="copyright">(Evan Vucci / AP)</span>
President Trump and Seema Verma, the head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, shown at a White House meeting in 2017, have taken few steps to alert consumers to their options for health coverage. (Evan Vucci / AP)

As millions of people lose jobs in the coronavirus outbreak, jeopardizing their health benefits, the Trump administration and many states are doing little if anything to connect Americans with other insurance coverage.

The U.S. Health and Human Services Department hasn’t launched any special effort to publicize the availability of Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program or health plans being sold on marketplaces created by the Affordable Care Act.

And federal officials haven’t made any substantial new commitment of money for outreach or to help people enroll in coverage.

In California and 11 other states that operate their own insurance marketplaces, state governments have created special enrollment periods to give people

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