WASHINGTON, D.C. – This month, the Trump Treasury Department reportedly began approving loan forgiveness requests for beneficiaries of the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which — given the secrecy surrounding the administration’s forgiveness requirements — could include the 1,094 publicly traded companies that received $1.63 billion in PPP funds. Meanwhile, local reports are mounting that state governments, which are apparently desperate to address budget shortfalls during the ongoing Trump recession and health crisis, are demanding workers return overpayments of unemployment benefits. In response, government watchdog Accountable.US renewed its calls for the McConnell Senate to join the U.S. House in passing a serious COVID-19 relief package that includes help for struggling states and workers.  

As the Trump administration squashes debts for wealthy and well-connected publicly traded companies, unemployment benefits are being clawed back from Americans hit hardest by the economic downturn. It’s another reason why Trump’s Senate allies have no excuse for continuing to delay urgently needed aid to states and workers. If the Trump administration is letting wealthy corporations off the hook from paying back taxpayers, why won’t they stand up for struggling families being shaken down in the middle of a pandemic?” 

said Kyle Herrig, president of Accountable.US

While small businesses and banks alike have complained about the lack of clarity surrounding PPP loan forgiveness in the months since the program was implemented, citing confusing and ever-changing guidelines and a lack of clear timing as serious issues, it’s the wealthy and well-connected corporations that benefitted from the program that likely have the staff and resources to navigate the forgiveness process. That is why Accountable.US sent a letter to SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza earlier this month calling on the agency to increase transparency in the loan forgiveness process. 

Local Stories Mount of Recession-Stricken State Governments Left to Crack Down on Those Who Need All the Help They Can Get:  

  • Fox 8 News, 10/21: Greensboro woman told to pay back nearly $15,000 in unemployment benefits. “This could happen to anybody whether you’re doing everything right or not to file unemployment, they could turn around and reverse it,” Hartnett said.
  • Texas Tribune, 10/15: As Texas asks her to repay unemployment aid, a Dallas County instructor faces confusing appeals process to fight back. Stevens had already spent that money keeping up with bills, like many of the other 3.6 million Texans who have received unemployment relief during the pandemic. She didn’t have the kind of money the agency was demanding. Nor did Stevens understand why she was ordered to repay the state any money at all. 
  • IndyStar, 10/14: ‘Wow, this is incredible, horrible’: Why some workers are asked to pay back jobless aid. “They want me to pay back all this money,” the 46-year-old Hardison said. “No one has that money sitting around just anywhere. I don’t know. I’m just really baffled about it. I couldn’t pay back any. I try to make it from check to check, you know.”
  • ABC 7 News, 10/12: Some Illinois PUA unemployment recipients told to pay back thousands of dollars to IDES in alleged over-payment. “First, I don’t have $15,000,” she said. “Secondly, like I said, I did everything that you guys had asked us to do. You gave this to us, but now you want us to give it back. We’re still in a pandemic. And how are people going to pay this big, especially me?” 
  • ArkLaTex, 9/27: North Louisiana woman receives letter demanding return of overpayment on unemployment benefits. Chelsea Honzell says she filed for unemployment back in March due to COVID-19 after having to leave her job because of underlying health conditions. Earlier this month, she got the first letter telling her she had to pay back $11,000. Since then, she says she has received two more notifications to pay back even more money, bringing the total to $20,000. 


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