WASHINGTON, D.C. — This afternoon, after weeks of hanging Americans out to dry while they went on vacation and are subsequently rushing through a controversial lifetime Supreme Court nominee whose record is still largely shrouded from the public, senators insulted the American people yet again by not providing a comprehensive response to COVID-19 and its economic fallout — instead voting only on a bill to extend Trump’s problematic Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).
The CARES Act program was poorly designed and mismanaged, leaving it open to rampant abuse, misuse, and fraud in its first iteration. As a result, wealthy and well-connected corporations and fraudsters alike ran away with billions in crucial funding meant to help mom-and-pops keep their employees on payroll as those actual small businesses — especially those in communities of color — were shut out entirely.
“The American people need help and need it now. Only voting to extend a program that failed the very people it was intended to help without fixing any of the flaws that allowed it to fail is completely nonsensical,” said Kyle Herrig, president of Accountable.US. “A lack of transparency and oversight in the Paycheck Protection Program allowed it to be hijacked by fraudsters and wealthy corporations while many small businesses were left behind. Any new relief measure must include strong, enforceable transparency measures to avoid more of the same disastrous results.”
Small businesses continue to face treacherous waters ahead, with many waiting on the brink of permanent closure for a new lifeline. But without enhanced transparency, it’s hard to envision how a new round of PPP funding would yield better results than the first, which overwhelmingly disadvantaged Black-owned and other minority-owned businesses.
Just a couple of weeks ago, the Small Business Administration (SBA) announced that it had started to forgive PPP loans after lengthy delays and complaints from banks and small business owners alike of confusion and poor communication. Government watchdog Accountable.US sent a letter to SBA Administrator Carranza demanding that more information about the loan forgiveness process be made public, including the process by which forgiveness is decided and which companies will have their loans forgiven, in order to ensure that funds are distributed equitably.