Everyone's Hand Is Out When Money Is Handed Out | Citizens Against Government Waste

Everyone's Hand Is Out When Money Is Handed Out

The WasteWatcher

Since the start of the federal government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, more than $3 trillion in federal funding has been allocated for pandemic crisis relief to businesses, dislocated workers, hospitals, as well as individuals with no more than $150,000 and couples with no more than $198,000 in income.  There were more than a few dead people who got money as well.

Like most government programs and particularly emergency spending bills, the results have not been as intended, as the effort to help small businesses on Main Street meet their expenses while on mandatory shut down orders from state and local governments has turned into a cash cow for several large corporations.  According to the Associated Press, at least 75 publicly traded companies applied for and received money from the small business paycheck protection program.

Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin has issued a warning to companies receiving this assistance that the Small Business Administration (SBA) will be closely scrutinizing any loan amount greater than $2 million before the loans are forgiven, and there may be criminal penalties imposed on any company that misrepresented their financial status in their applications.  But this isn’t stopping other businesses from holding out their hands and saying, “Me too, Uncle Sam.”

Among those asking for special treatment from the federal government are the National Association of Broadcasters and the News Media Association.  The broadcasters have asked Congress to lift the 500 employee or fewer threshold for the small business classification solely for their industry so they too can qualify for the next round of funding for small business loans and grants.  They are also asking Congress to appropriate an additional $5-10 billion for local radio, TV, and newsprint advertising so they can relay information from the CDC, U.S. Census, and other federal campaigns.  This special SBA carve-out for the broadcasters would be worse than the $81 million that was given to restaurant chains, including Potbelly’s, Ruth’s Hospitality Group, and Shake Shack.  They all returned the money that they were provided by the government after they were able to borrow from their normal sources like banks.

Federal funds in emergency spending bills must focus on the most urgent and immediate needs and be targeted, temporary, and transparent.  Small business loans and grants from the government should be reserved solely for the millions of genuine small businesses across the country who are struggling to survive.