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Relief for small businesses is already too little, too late

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We’ll have to wait for the April report — in more than a month — to see the entire impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Apu Gomes/AFP via Getty Images

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Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has asked Congress for another $250 billion to shore up small businesses suffering the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

That’s on top of the $350 billion in forgivable loans that became available last Friday, and one of a few proposals Congress could take up to augment the historic $2 trillion stimulus package.

Banks will disburse the loans. By early Monday, 177,000 businesses had already applied. It’s been a rocky rollout. Whether a business owner gets their loan approved depends a lot on banks, which are complaining that the program’s guidelines are unclear. And applying for unemployment insurance is its own trial by fire, with systems straining under the weight of 10 million claims filed the past two weeks.

Today, we’ll talk with Marketplace personal finance reporter Sam Fields about what people and businesses need to go to get that relief money, and whether it’s actually helping.

Later in the show we’ll get the view on the ground from listeners in Iowa and Tennessee, take a look at the reconfiguring of side hustles and hear a culinary answer to the “Make Me Smart” question.

Have we mentioned we’re doing daily podcasts now? You can also tell your Echo device to “make me smart” for our Alexa explainers. This week: the difference between furloughs and layoffs. Finally, don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter. Here’s the latest issue.

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