Congress Returns to Normal amid COVID-19

Congress Returns to Normal amid COVID-19

Congress returns to normal amid COVID-19 crisis. Congress adjourned for the weekend with no deal on expanding small business relief. This includes the highly sought after Payroll Protection Program (PPP) as well as the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL).  The PPP in particular is a nightmare. After a slow roll out, a tremendous amount of questions, concerns about how fast money would be dispersed, and a late adoption of financial technology companies such as PayPal and Square, which are uniquely well-positioned to assist with this lending,  the program is out of money. 

PPP & EIDL Out of Money

The SBA EIDL is in a similar situation. While initially promising a $10,000 loan advance upon receipt, the dollar amount has been reduced to $1,000 per employee, and as of this writing, not one of the entrepreneurs or small business owners I know received any money from it. Nor will they as of right now because this program too is out of money as of this morning’s article in the Washington Post.  As Holly Wade, director of research and policy analysis for the National Federation of Independent Business, the largest group representing small businesses in the country said, 

The loss of these two loan programs is absolutely terrible for the small business sector.”

Congress returns to Normal amid COVID-19: Continues to Bicker in Midst of Crisis

While our leaders in Washington have been bickering back and forth about funding various sectors of our economy, they continue to miss the point. There is no time to bicker, argue, or negotiate. This funding, likely all the funding being discussed is needed, and needed yesterday. It is unfortunate, however as of this writing it does not appear the SBA has even requested more money for the befuddled EIDL budget.  

As Brad Close, president of the National Federation of Independent Businesses so painfully stated, 

America’s small businesses are on the brink, trying desperately to keep their doors open and support their employees,” Close said in a statement. “They have been let down by lawmakers and the bureaucracy.”

Is ‘Normal’ Better than This?

All of this information begs the question, are we handling this pandemic correctly.  As discussed yesterday, as we learn more should we be re-evaluating how we best proceed in combating this virus? We know now that according to the 600 person sample created by the USS Theodore Roosevelt, that approximately 60% of Sailors on-board have tested positive for the virus with no presentation of symptoms. 

We also know the negative impact the virus is having on the global economy is huge and likely even worse here in the United States has our numbers soar and early indications predict a propensity for the virus to more severely effect obese people, with the United States being the most obese country in the world. 

Taking this information hand-in-hand, it does not offer any clear indications of how the future may play out. However it does make one question if we should modify our plan moving forward. Holding stimulus dollars constant, perhaps our nation and our economy are better off allowing life to go back to a degree of ‘normal’ while using our dollars and our technology to keep those of higher risk safe. If the virus is potentially much wider spread than we realize (think 60% of USS Teddy Roosevelt) and we have identified high risk categories, could we save our country pain and money by becoming more specific with our pandemic response rather than more and more broad?

Use Stimulus to Protect Those at Risk

Spend money to let those people who are high risk adjust their lifestyle and stay home as necessary.  Without testing, no one knows with certainty, but early indications suggest the virus may be far more widespread than we first thought. It also appears increasingly likely it was here much earlier than expected. This in conjunction with the more clearly defined risk pools leave room for the rest of us to help the country get back on its feet. 

A return to normalcy will solve a tremendous amount of long term economic problems, end the political stalemate, as Congress returns to normal amid COVID-19 crisis currently further crippling our small businesses, and likely allow a larger majority of our communities develop immunity to the virus naturally. We have the most advanced medicine in the world. Depending on how the virus mutates or doesn’t mutate, end this pandemic as quickly as it started. As ventilators continue to be increasingly available and masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE) production ramps up, it seems probable we can mitigate the risk of over exposure and severe illness without further impacting our economic system. 

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