Commentary / Coronavirus

Profound Error – by Congressional Democrats

democratsHouse Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), and Senate Assistant Minority Leader Patty Murray (D-WA) – have made a profound error. Their error will cost America – and it may cost them.

By blocking unanimous consent April 9 on a small business rescue add of $250 billion urgently needed across the US – they have cost small businesses dearly, placing millions of businesses and jobs at risk in their home states and nationwide. The error hurts all Americans – including working seniors – with 40 percent of Americans over 55 now in the labor force.

Timelines are telling, this one compelling. On Friday, March 27, the President signed the CARES law, setting in motion release of 349 billion dollars to save American small businesses – involuntarily forced to shut down in hopes of preventing transmission of coronavirus.

On Friday, April 3, the Small Business Administration (SBA) began approving applications from small businesses for life-and-death loans, filed through community and large banks nationwide.

Immediately obvious was one fact: While SBA’s small business loans cover 2.5 times payroll, forgiven after eight weeks if no employees are laid off, the money would be tight.

Another $250 billion was needed, as many of America’s 30 million small businesses sought coverage to meet payroll. Senate Republicans immediately introduced a bill matching the need and asked unanimous consent for the added resources on April 9.

The six Democrats above – Pelosi, Hoyer, Clyburn, Schumer, Durbin, and Murray, top of Democrat’s food chain – blocked the bill, effectively preventing critical payroll resources from reaching small businesses. The crisis is now upon many, this week of April 13.

Why? Democrats want to add things to the small business loan bill. That is the price of Democrat support in both chambers. They want more spending, more bells and whistles.

In an act of extraordinary opportunism and irresponsibility, Speaker Pelosi said April 9: “We have made our statement.” Indeed. In effect, no money to save small businesses unless you give us more goodies.

The effect of this act, foisted on small businesses nationwide, is bound to be profound. It represents a misunderstanding of what is required to run a small business, keep people employed.

Most small businesses operate with limited liquidity, minimal margin for error, let alone cash to manage a prolonged shutdown, no fault of their own. The audacity, arrogance and ignorance of saying suffering small businesses must wait on another Democrat wish-list – boggles the mind.

Small businesses in states and districts represented by these Democrats will feel the impact. As of April 11, 725,000 loans were processed by SBA under the Payment Protection Program, drawing $182 billion from the original $349 billion.

Within days, the rest is expected to be consumed. Small businesses nationwide will have no lifeline to meet payroll, no income due to the shutdown. Democrats have stopped the process, leaving small businesses to struggle alone, even if they restart it the week of April 13.

Democrats have cost America’s small businesses precious time, loss of certainty over payroll coverage, amputated liquidity and planning time, in many cases the opportunity for survival.

Missing payroll, rent, mortgage, inventory, and other contract payments can be irreversible, dispositive both for small businesses and those who get their payments, from employees to landlords. The process cascades.

This is what congressional Democrats do not understand, but soon will. California has more than four million small businesses, which employ more than seven million people. These small businesses account for 99.8 percent of all California businesses, employing 48.8 percent of the state’s workforce. These businesses are the heartbeat of California’s economy. Most are closed, choking, and at serious risk. Democrats – led by Pelosi – have placed them at greater risk.

Ditto for New York, where Senator Schumer’s State is now in great jeopardy. New York has at least 1.8 million small businesses, providing half a million jobs – before including New York’s enormous pool of self-employed. They are all now at increased risk of financial failure.

Congressman Steny Hoyer, Democrat of Maryland, should be no less concerned. That state has at least half a million small businesses, which employ hundreds of thousands, again before counting the self-employed. Hoyer has hobbled them all.

Democrat Senator Dick Durbin’s Illinois has more than a million small businesses, Democratic Senator Patty Murry’s Washington has more than half a million, and Democrat James Clyburn’s South Carolina has just under half a million – all before counting the self-employed. Many of those businesses, and their worried employees, are closer to the cliff – thanks to recklessness by Democrat partisans.

Nationally, tallies show America has 30.2 million small businesses, which provide roughly half of all of America’s employment. The central question is this – should we not want to save that engine of the American economy? No one wants waste, largess or unnecessary spending – but this is a crisis not of their making, and that is why the rescue of SBA’s loan program is key.

Knowing barriers of entry for restarting a business are high, how can any responsible member of Congress not do everything possible to preserve these American risk-takers, product makers, retailers and employers?

Democratic congressional leaders – and their caucus – are costing America dearly. Days and weeks translate into survival or failure, jobs held or lost, paychecks or none. While Democrats angle for ways to load bills with unnecessary spending, Americans suffer, worry, wonder, wait.

Whatever happens this week, Democrats are playing with fire. American businesses with fewer than 100 employees account for 98.2 percent of the total, while those with less than 20 employees count for 89 percent of the total. America needs small businesses to pull through.

The American economy, millions of small businesses, tens of millions of jobs rest in the balance. Lest they forget, so do jobs in DC. Congressional Democrats made a profound error. They need to correct it – fast. Putting small businesses – countless American lives and families – at risk for misconceived partisan advantage is wrong. November is coming, but we need responsible leadership now.

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