B1 Intermediate 2 Folder Collection
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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
are more obscure, some others are pretty familiar to us.
-Popular food chains, including Shake Shack,
Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, and Potbelly
received millions from the Paycheck Protection Program,
while some small business owners missed out.
-One of the most profitable franchises in the NBA,
the Los Angeles Lakers, was able to secure
a nearly $5 million loan from the government.
-Despite being one of the richest NBA franchises,
estimated a worth of $4.4 billion,
the Lakers applied and qualified for that loan.
-That's right. This thing was handled so poorly
that the L.A. Lakers qualified as a small business.
"All right, what about this place, La Lakers?"
I guess it's a, uh,
basket-making company?"
Now, several of those companies --
Shake Shack, Potbelly's, Ruth's Chris, and the Lakers,
to name a few -- gave the money back.
We applaud them for that. That was the right thing to do.
While others are still refusing to do so
and, now, Trump's own Justice Department
is investigating the program,
since the rush to get people the funds
has led to fraudsters trying to take advantage
of its many loopholes.
The government is also finally trying to issue rules
that would make it harder for large corporations
to get those loans, but some say it's a little too late,
because small business owners need that money
just like they need a government that won't deceive them
by trying to score political points
as they pander to their wealthy donors.
And, while many of us probably feel helpless
about what we can do to help,
each person can support local businesses
by doing things like getting gift cards,
buying vouchers while services aren't available,
and giving positive reviews.
Because, as the Trump administration
is still scrambling to figure this out,
that would be, as Trump himself likes to say,
so much nicer if we do that.
This has been "The Check-In."
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The Check In: Small Businesses

2 Folder Collection
林宜悉 published on May 14, 2020
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