U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today discussed the toll the coronavirus has taken on our economy, but emphasized some encouraging signs, specifically the success of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) that was enacted as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act. More than 4.5 million small businesses have taken advantage of the program, including more than 21,500 businesses in South Dakota. Thune highlighted the need to continue monitoring the implementation of PPP and make fixes to the program if necessary.
Click here or on the picture above to watch Thune’s speech.
Excerpt of Thune’s remarks below:
“Mr. President, our economy has taken a huge hit from the coronavirus, and we have a lot of work to do to recover.
“But there are encouraging signs, and one of those has been the success of the Paycheck Protection Program.
“The pandemic has presented a particular challenge for small businesses, who frequently have very limited cash reserves to draw on.
“That’s why – thanks to the efforts of Senators Rubio, Collins, and others – Congress established the Paycheck Protection Program, which provides forgivable loans to small businesses to help them keep employees on their payroll during this crisis.
“So far, more than 4.5 million small businesses nationwide have received relief from this program.
“And the majority of the loans have gone to the smallest businesses:
“Nearly 3 million of the 4.5 million total loans have been at or under $50,000.
“In my home state of South Dakota, more than 21,000 businesses have benefited, including some of the many seasonal businesses, who have a limited amount of time each year to make the money they need to survive.
“I’m very grateful to the thousands of bank and credit union employees around the nation who processed these loans under challenging circumstances during the pandemic.
“All told, millions of small business jobs have been saved, and a lot of small businesses that might have gone under during the pandemic are hanging on thanks to this program.
“In fact, the Paycheck Protection Program is undoubtedly one of the reasons that the May jobs numbers were not as bad as expected.
“Instead of a net job loss, the economy actually gained jobs.
“Now, that’s not to suggest that the May jobs report was rosy.
“Our unemployment rate is unacceptably high – to put it mildly.
“But the fact that we gained jobs is a positive sign.
“It’s definitely a step in the right direction, and the Paycheck Protection Program helped us get there.
“Mr. President, so far, Congress has provided $2.4 trillion to respond to the coronavirus, including the almost $700 billion allocated for the Paycheck Protection Program.
“That’s a staggering amount of money – equal to roughly half of the entire federal budget for 2020.
“But these were extraordinary circumstances, and extraordinary action was required.
“However, Democrats are now pushing for Congress to rush another massive bill out the door.
“Mr. President, it’s important to remember that every dollar Congress has provided to fight the coronavirus has been borrowed money.
“Now, as I said, it’s money we needed to borrow.
“But it’s still borrowed money that will have to be repaid.
“Will we need to provide more money to confront the pandemic and its effects?
“But we need to make sure that we are only appropriating what is really necessary.
“Rushing a $3 trillion bill through Congress, as Democrats want to do, before the $2.4 trillion we’ve already provided has even been fully spent is not a responsible way to go about providing additional relief.
“What we need to focus on right now is monitoring the implementation of coronavirus funding so that we can identify where we’ve spent sufficiently and where we may need to do more.
“The Paycheck Protection Program provides a good example of the strategy we should be using.
“Congress provided nearly $350 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program when it was first created.
“Within a short time after the program’s kickoff, however, it became clear that demand was so great that we would need to provide additional funding.
“And that’s what we did – providing an additional $310 billion in late April.
“Then just a couple of weeks ago, we passed another update to the program – not additional funding, but a package of fixes to provide additional flexibility to small businesses.
“I’ve proposed a further refinement to the program that I hope Congress will pass in the near future.
“While the Paycheck Protection Program is open to self-employed workers – which describes many farmers – in practice the program’s guidelines have excluded a lot of agriculture producers.
“Low commodity prices and a challenging planting season meant that many farmers and ranchers had a negative net income in 2019.
“And right now the program’s guidelines exclude farmers or ranchers without employees with a negative net income for last year.
“My legislation would allow more farmers to access the Paycheck Protection Program by allowing them to use their 2019 gross income instead of their 2019 net income when calculating their loan award.
“Mr. President, this is what we should be doing when it comes to additional coronavirus funding.
“The best way to make sure we’re spending taxpayer dollars wisely – and not burdening our economy with more debt – is to carefully monitor the implementation of the funds we’ve already provided and use that information to guide further action.
“That’s what we’ve done with the Paycheck Protection Program, and that’s what we should do with the other coronavirus funding we’ve passed and the other coronavirus programs we’ve implemented.
“It’s also important to remember that sometimes what is required is not additional money, but other types of solutions – like the fixes we passed to add more flexibility to the Paycheck Protection Program.
“Mr. President, as we move forward, I will continue to work with my colleagues to respond to the coronavirus.
“And I will continue to do everything I can to ensure that any additional money we spend is carefully targeted to real needs and with an eye to minimizing the burden on future generations.
“We owe younger Americans nothing less.”