While Senator Susan Collins has spent almost half a million dollars on campaign ads boasting about writing the Paycheck Protection Program, small businesses in Maine are speaking out about their frustration with the program that has handed out $1 billion to large corporations while leaving smaller businesses behind.
Last week, Maine small business owners joined Maine Democrats to share their stories of uncertainty and problems with the PPP. In a new report today, the New York Times spotlighted how four local small businesses in Maine — “an animation studio, a beauty salon, a Pilates gym, and a cafe and bookshop” — all shared “their stories of frustrations and failures with the Paycheck Protection Program” at that event.
All but one of the small business owners who participated in the event said that they had reached out to Senator Collins’ office for help but still couldn’t get the information they needed.
Collins not only wrote the PPP, she went out of her way to revise the legislation so that the big hotel and restaurant chains that have backed her campaign could take advantage of resources that were supposed to go to struggling small businesses. After extensive reporting revealed that large corporations and businesses with close ties to Trump have received millions while small businesses have been left out, polls have shown that voters think PPP funds were distributed unfairly.
“While small businesses all over Maine are struggling with the PPP, Susan Collins is running campaign ads to mislead voters about her record and the serious problems with the program,” said Maine Democratic Party Executive Director Lisa Roberts. “Collins went out of her way to make the PPP work for the big corporate interests that have donated to her campaign, but when small business owners speak out about problems with the program, they can’t get the help they need. Our small businesses deserve better.”
The New York Times: Management of Bailout Money Poses Political Test for Trump
By Alan Rappeport and Nick Corasaniti
May 28, 2020
The Trump administration’s carrying out of the largest economic bailout in American history has emerged as a political liability for the president, with businesses, banks and Democrats assailing the White House over its handling of a centerpiece program intended to help keep businesses and workers afloat during the virus-induced shutdown.
Funds have flowed to rich hoteliers, the Los Angeles Lakers and Planned Parenthood affiliates, sending Mr. Trump’s advisers scrambling to reclaim money and tighten the program’s terms. With more than 30 million Americans jobless and economists predicting that thousands of small businesses could shutter permanently, the Paycheck Protection Program’s troubles are shaping up as an opportunity for Democrats heading into the 2020 election.
Last week, the Democratic National Committee and Democratic state parties in swing states held conference calls with reporters and other events highlighting stories of small-business owners who did not get approved for loans.
In Maine, four small businesses — an animation studio, a beauty salon, a Pilates gym, and a cafe and bookshop — all told their stories of frustrations and failures with the Paycheck Protection Program, prodded by the state Democratic Party chair.
Some Republican candidates are running their own ads embracing the effort. Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, who is facing a tough re-election battle, has spent nearly $500,000 on ads that promote her role in “co-authoring” the program, according to data from Advertising Analytics, an ad tracking firm.
Democrats and allied groups have been buoyed by polling from Navigator Research, which is overseen by leaders of several progressive organizations, that found a majority of Americans were “very concerned” that the loans were going to large corporations and businesses like the Los Angeles Lakers instead of small businesses.
Stephen Moore, the conservative economist who is an informal adviser to Mr. Trump, said that Republicans made a mistake in devising a program with insufficient transparency in which most of the loans turn into grants. That has given big companies an incentive to seek free money.
“That was a very foolish and expensive decision that has led to a lot of taxpayer rip-offs,” Mr. Moore said.