The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) has been so popular that nearly all of the program’s $350 billion stimulus funds have been loaned out to America’s small businesses to avert layoffs.
Conservatives would like to add more money to the program to help more small businesses make payroll. Liberals won’t agree unless they get some of their wishlist funding and increase regulatory red tape.
Once again, bipartisanship is out and Washington gridlock is back.
In the midst of the novel coronavirus crisis, we actually saw Congress come together to support several stimulus packages that provided aid to hospitals and economic relief to small business owners and American families.
Sadly, Democrats had their eye on a fourth stimulus bill laden with radical, liberal proposals and government overreach measures. Since that will go nowhere, they have shifted gears to thwart any targeted stimulus efforts that actually work in keeping people employed.
According to the Small Business Association, the PPP has approved 1.5 million applications for more than $324 billion in aid. Small businesses can apply for up to 8 weeks of aid to pay workers, rent, or other bills.
The program is now dangerously close to running out of funding spelling trouble for pending or future applications.
Efforts to negotiate an additional $250 billion have stalled. While conservatives have asked for a “clean” $250 billion increase, liberals want to pair any funding with hundreds of billions of dollars for hospitals, state and local governments, and food stamps.
In addition, as House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) Scott explained, liberals also want to needlessly complicate the simple 3-step loan application process, which would slow the processing of applications and raise compliance costs (especially at a time that small businesses don’t need the added headaches):
Program participation is now a straightforward, three-step process. First, fill out a two-page “Borrower Application Form,” which can be found on the SBA’s website. Second, make a copy of your payroll documentation. Third, submit the form and payroll documents to any lender backed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. This simplicity makes the program accessible for mom-and-pop shops that don’t have a government-compliance department.
Democrats want to replace simplicity with more bureaucracy. They propose mandating that small-business owners submit personal data about themselves and other owners and investors to their banks and the federal government. According to Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, this will ensure that no one is “excluded from the Paycheck Protection Program by big banks with significant lending capacity.
The PPP is an example of a federal stimulus measure that checks the boxes of three important goals: it’s targeted to those who need help (small businesses), it’s temporary (only providing a set number of weeks of aid), and it’s flexible (can be used for payroll or other critical business needs).
Also, unlike unemployment funding, which is given to workers after they have lost their jobs, this proactive aid is given to employers to pay workers and retain them, forgoing layoffs.
Jobless claims are expected to top 5 million for a third straight week. Whereas the first wave of layoffs was in the food, hospitality, and retail industries, the second wave is expected to hit white-collar jobs. Measures that can ease layoffs are critical.
Stimulus funding should not be indefinite and the PPP is not. It’s a bridge to get small businesses that employ nearly half of the American workforce over the troubled coronavirus waters.
It still may not be enough to stave off mass layoffs, but it’s a good solution and one that should not become a political football among those who don’t have to worry about their next paycheck or keeping their lights on.