[Editor’s note: This story originally was published by Real Clear Politics.]
By Brendan Flanagan
Real Clear Politics
The coronavirus pandemic is causing unprecedented economic hardship for small businesses throughout the United States and across nearly every industry.
In the midst of companies filing for bankruptcy and making the tough decision to lay off employees, Congress rightfully acted quickly to pass the CARES Act, which included Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans for businesses struggling to survive. The program has been utilized by millions of businesses to help stay afloat over the past few months. However, the question now is how will small businesses pay back these loans — especially as the virus and its economic impact continue to pose a threat to all Americans?
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To this day, businesses are facing great uncertainty because of the coronavirus. The last thing small-business owners should have to worry about is burdensome and time-consuming paperwork, but that’s exactly what so many of them are facing. Fortunately, bipartisan legislation has been introduced in the Senate to provide PPP loan forgiveness to small businesses. The Paycheck Protection Small Business Forgiveness Act, sponsored by Sens. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), calls for streamlined forgiveness of small PPP loans under $150,000, so long as the borrower answers a simple, one-question form that proves the loan was used to retain employees.
Passing this legislation would be extremely beneficial to small businesses, saving them $2,000 to $4,000 each under this model, according to AQN Strategies, which notes that the length and complexity of PPP loan-forgiveness paperwork would require 20 to 100 hours of focused time. All in all, this bill would save business owners a lot of time and money. And in today’s economic climate, that is incredibly important.
Senators on both sides of the aisle must join their colleagues in supporting this common-sense legislation. With record high unemployment and millions of Americans out of work, we cannot afford to let any stone go unturned when trying to kick-start the economy and keep Americans working. As Sen. Sinema said, “Fully forgiving Arizona small businesses’ PPP loans provides needed economic certainty to local employers — which have suffered losses through no fault of their own — while protecting Arizonans’ jobs and paychecks.” We’ve got to hold that standard in all states, including Virginia, where businesses and nonprofits took in between $9.5 billion to $18.2 billion in PPP loans, with the vast majority under $150,000.
Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine would be very smart to lead on this issue and support their colleagues.
And in my home state of Indiana, where the 12.3% unemployment rate is higher than the national 11.1% average, our small businesses need relief as well. There’s no region of the country that has escaped this economic crisis unscathed, and that’s why the Senate must pass this bill.
Small businesses are the backbone of our economy. As the co-sponsors of the Paycheck Protection Small Business Forgiveness Act demonstrate, supporting and protecting small businesses is a bipartisan issue that all legislators should rally behind. As this bill progresses in the Senate, I hope to see more Democratic senators join their colleagues in supporting this effort to help American businesses survive.