Did the Paycheck Protection Program work?
Politics | The answer differs between political parties
by Harvest Prude
Posted 9/03/20, 04:06 pm
Lawmakers have come to opposite conclusions about the massive effort to shield businesses from the effects of COVID-19 closures. In reports released Tuesday, Democrats on the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis described the Paycheck Protection Program as riddled with fraud, waste, and abuse, while Republicans cheered it as a “resounding success.”
Congress designed the program—part of the $2.2 trillion stimulus package it passed in March—to help small businesses stay afloat during the pandemic with forgivable loans. The program received about $670 billion total in funding.
In June, the Democrat-led coronavirus subcommittee opened an investigation into reports of large companies receiving aid. This week’s Democratic report said lack of oversight and accountability plagued the Paycheck Protection Program. More than $1 billion went to companies that received more than one loan, which was against the rules. Companies ineligible to do business with the federal government received 600 loans. And more than 350 payouts, worth $195 million, went to contractors the federal government had flagged previously for “significant performance and integrity issues.”
But the report noted that, overall, the 5.2 million loans likely prevented many small businesses from closing during the economic downturn.
The GOP report, also released Tuesday, said the swift action to provide aid to business owners helped save some 51 million jobs and provided $117 billion in loans to areas of particular economic distress—and thus secured more than 13 million jobs in those areas.
Republicans previously criticized Planned Parenthood for taking millions in paycheck protection loans despite being ineligible due to its number of employees. Some Planned Parenthood affiliates returned the loans, but others have yet to do so. Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., is currently leading an investigation into affiliates that received the loans.
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