COVID-19

Who got PPP loans? Trump administration releases the data.

Sabri Ben-Achour, Nova Safo, and Alex Schroeder Jul 7, 2020
Heard on: Marketplace Morning Report
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Larger companies initially took advantage of the Paycheck Protection Program, which was intended to offer forgivable loans to smaller businesses. Kameleon007 via Getty Images
COVID-19

Who got PPP loans? Trump administration releases the data.

Sabri Ben-Achour, Nova Safo, and Alex Schroeder Jul 7, 2020
Larger companies initially took advantage of the Paycheck Protection Program, which was intended to offer forgivable loans to smaller businesses. Kameleon007 via Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

The Paycheck Protection Program loans — forgivable if workers stay on payrolls — were supposed to save small and mid-sized businesses, and along with them, jobs.

According to newly released data on who got loans worth $150,000 or more, the program worked: Money was spread around widely, to everything from health care companies to construction, manufacturing and religious organizations.

But the loans also went to some enterprises that are once again prompting questions about who really needed the government aid.

Marketplace’s Nova Safo has the details. The following is an edited transcript of his conversation with Marketplace’s Sabri Ben-Achour.

Sabri Ben-Achour: So who got loans that people might be raising questions about this morning?

Nova Safo: Probably the highest-profile name is Kanye West. His clothing company got millions in PPP loans. We don’t know the exact amount — it’s categorized as between $2 million and $5 million. The reason we’re learning about this now is that the Treasury Department and Small Business Administration, under pressure, released data for who got the biggest loans.

Among the recipients listed: expensive private schools, big restaurant chains, lobbying and investment firms and law practices, including one that represented President Donald Trump. Some megachurches got millions of dollars.

Less than 15% of recipients requested loans worth more than $150,000, but this group accounted for the vast majority of the money that was dispersed by the Small Business Administration.

Ben-Achour: I remember a few weeks ago we were talking about some big restaurant chains taking PPP loans, so are these revelations a surprise?

Safo: They’re confirming some of the criticisms about the PPP program, that money was flowing to bigger businesses than perhaps Congress intended.

The issue is that the program was supposed to be for firms that didn’t have other options for quickly raising cash to continue paying employees and staying in business.

We spoke with Sarah Crozier of the Main Street Alliance, which is an advocacy group for small business:

“To see that the most well-banked businesses are best represented in getting that money and ultimately, maybe didn’t need it as much as other businesses, particularly in the service industries — I can see where that outrage has been justified.”

Crozier told us that what her group now wants is for Congress to target aid, for example, geographically to small businesses in infection hot spots, where the aid may be most needed.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

What’s going on with extra COVID-19 unemployment benefits?

The latest: President Donald Trump signed an executive action directing $400 extra a week in unemployment benefits. But will that aid actually reach people? It’s still unclear. Trump directed federal agencies to send $300 dollars in weekly aid, taken from the federal disaster relief fund, and called on states to provide an additional $100. But states’ budgets are stretched thin as it is.

What’s the latest on evictions?

For millions of Americans, things are looking grim. Unemployment is high, and pandemic eviction moratoriums have expired in states across the country. And as many people already know, eviction is something that can haunt a person’s life for years. For instance, getting evicted can make it hard to rent again. And that can lead to spiraling poverty.

Which retailers are requiring that people wear masks when shopping? And how are they enforcing those rules?

Walmart, Target, Lowe’s, CVS, Home Depot, Costco — they all have policies that say shoppers are required to wear a mask. When an employee confronts a customer who refuses, the interaction can spin out of control, so many of these retailers are telling their workers to not enforce these mandates. But, just having them will actually get more people to wear masks.

You can find answers to more questions on unemployment benefits and COVID-19 here.

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