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  • -As the coronavirus pandemic

  • continues to wreak havoc on the economy,

  • small businesses are barely staying afloat,

  • threatening the livelihood of owners and their employees.

  • The Trump administration vowed to do everything it could

  • to help them during this crisis, so we decided to take a break

  • from the breaking news of the day

  • to see how that's going.

  • This is "The Check-In."

  • [ Suspenseful theme plays ]

  • [ Bell dings ]

  • Because of social distancing rules,

  • most family-owned and small businesses

  • were forced to shut down around mid-March,

  • which meant they weren't makin' any money

  • and could no longer afford to pay their employees.

  • So, Congress took action a few weeks later,

  • passing its initial stimulus bill,

  • which included something called the Paycheck Protection Program,

  • which was a $350 billion loan program

  • for businesses with fewer than 500 employees.

  • So, something like your mom-and-pop hardware store

  • may qualify,

  • but something like Google or Walmart

  • or the Polyphonic Spree would not.

  • And that's a reference I would only make in an attic.

  • Now, business owners were encouraged to apply for loans

  • which they would not have to pay back,

  • as long as they kept employees on payroll for eight weeks

  • or if they used the money for rent payments.

  • And before the PPP even went into effect,

  • Trump's Treasury secretary,

  • in real life "Guess Who" piece,

  • Steve Mnuchin was already boasting about it.

  • -You get the money.

  • You'll get it the same day.

  • You use this to pay your workers.

  • Right now, you can go on the Web,

  • see what information you need.

  • Very simple process.

  • -As a general rule,

  • whenever the Trump administration talks

  • about a very simple process,

  • expect to spend a few days on it.

  • "It's a very simple process.

  • First you need a cow

  • as white as milk, a cape as red as blood,

  • hair as yellow as corn, and a slipper as pure as gold."

  • And, sure, despite what Mnuchin grunted through his teeth,

  • small business owners ended up

  • not getting their money right away.

  • Some didn't get it at all

  • and others weren't sure how to apply for these loans

  • because the administration didn't make it clear.

  • It was, in fact, the exact opposite

  • of a very simple process.

  • -Well, glitches and confusion

  • over a new federal program to help small businesses

  • and their employees affected by the coronavirus.

  • -$350 billion, and we don't know all the rules yet.

  • You can't do that overnight.

  • -It felt like the world's largest bait-and-switch.

  • -I've talked to entrepreneurs who've been trying

  • to get ahold of their banker and no one can do it.

  • It's not a magic wand to say the money is there.

  • -Of course, this administration

  • wants us to believe it can fix everything with magic wands,

  • or enchanted swords, or even glowing orbs.

  • [ As Trump ] Don't worry, the orb's on it.

  • But, unlike Trump, this is, clearly, not simple.

  • Because, after the initial rollout

  • of the PPP in early April, it was clear

  • the program was rushed through and was pushed live

  • before banks had the ability to create stable processes

  • for accepting and funding these loan applications.

  • As one small business owner put it,

  • "It's like building an airplane while you're flying it."

  • Which, if you've ever flown Spirit,

  • you know can be done.

  • "Okay, folks, we'll be pushin' back from the gate

  • ju-u-u-st as soon as everyone

  • gets their seats bolted into the floor.

  • Remember, it's "Righty tighty, lefty loosey,"

  • and then we'll be-e-e ready to go up."

  • [ Laughing ] And, look, I'm not saying a program like this

  • would be easy to roll out without glitches,

  • but the president did say that.

  • So, it's no surprise Trump became increasingly defensive

  • when he was asked about its many problems.

  • -The Paycheck Protection Program has gotten off

  • to a confusing start

  • for small businesses. -I don't think so.

  • I think it's done very well. -Well, Wells Fargo

  • has stopped taking applications.

  • Bank of America initially... -Not anymore, they haven't.

  • -...prioritized taking applications

  • from clients that were

  • already borrowers, so -- -Bank of America

  • has been the leader, takin'

  • tremendous numbers of applications.

  • I wish you'd ask the question differently.

  • Why don't you say, "It's gotten off to a tremendous start,

  • but, there are some little glitches,

  • which, by the way, have been worked out"?

  • It would be so much nicer if you'd do that.

  • But it's such a positive event

  • and you ask it in such a negative way.

  • -[ As Trump ] I wish you'd said,

  • "Congratulations on how well this program is going.

  • Now, would you like to go back to your room and watch TV?"

  • I wish that had been the question.

  • And then, I could say yes and this nightmare would be over.

  • And, unfortunately, that positive event

  • Trump bragged about was extremely short-lived

  • because it took 13 days

  • for the Paycheck Protection Program to run out of money.

  • Thirteen days!

  • Still, two days longer than a Scaramucci.

  • Ohh. Remember when we used to talk about this guy?

  • Those were the days.

  • So weird, you know?

  • Used to make fun of him and now, you know,

  • I'd probably vote for him.

  • Now, because the government ran out of money,

  • Mnuchin and Trump had to ask Congress for even more funds

  • and Trump announced that request in the only way he knows how --

  • by pretending like he needed more resources

  • because he did such a great job the first time around.

  • -We're way ahead of schedule, by the way.

  • We're way ahead of schedule.

  • The Paycheck Protection Program has been incredible.

  • The plan is amazing.

  • You know, they're processing hundreds of thousands of loans.

  • -Yes, they're processing a lotta loans,

  • because people are desperate for help.

  • It's like you're standing on the deck

  • of the Titanic, saying...

  • [ As Trump ] Man, these lifeboats of mine

  • are going like hot cakes.

  • Of course, the fake news isn't gonna talk

  • about how popular the lifeboats are.

  • It's just gonna be "Iceberg this; iceberg that."

  • Where's the iceberg from?

  • Obama. China.

  • Look into it. Ask somebody.

  • Now, despite the fact

  • that the initial PPP was not an incredible success,

  • Congress did pass another stimulus,

  • which allocated billions more for small businesses,

  • so, the administration got a second chance

  • not to screw things up.

  • How did that go?

  • -The new round of government funding,

  • $310 billion poured into the Paycheck Protection Program

  • for small businesses,

  • got off to a rocky start,

  • the online loan application process plagued

  • with technical issues.

  • -Loans from the federal government were supposed

  • to provide a lifeline to small business owners,

  • but, for many, the money has never come.

  • -Got an email saying,

  • "Sorry, the funds are out, but you're approved."

  • -The bank told that guy, "You're approved,

  • [ Laughing ] but there's no money."

  • That's like saying, "Congratulations,

  • you've been given a full-ride scholarship

  • to On-Fire University."

  • And, if that's not bad enough, what made things even worse

  • for small business owners was learning

  • which businesses and entities

  • did get approved and got their money.

  • According to reports, public companies received

  • $1 billion in stimulus funds meant for small businesses.

  • And, while some of those multimillion-

  • and billion-dollar companies who benefited from this program