Our coronavirus relief checks from the $2.2-trillion emergency legislation passed last week by Congress will take a little time to arrive. Folks who’ve filed taxes and provided the IRS with their bank account numbers will get direct deposit starting the week of April 13 (see: take off your tinfoil hat, get faster service). The IRS will start cranking out paper checks around May 4, but its printer can only run and stamp and send five million checks a week. When you have a hundred million checks to print, that’s twenty weeks, through September, to do the whole job.
But the relief package has a nice progressive ring to it:
The checks will be issued in reverse order of adjusted gross income, meaning that people with the lowest income will get payments first [“Some May Not Receive Stimulus Checks Until August,” AP via KELO-TV, 2020.04.02].
I have no problem with that. Help the folks with the greatest need first.
Small businesses are supposed to be able to start applying for paycheck protection loans from banks today. Alas, that $350 billion tranche will probably go to the big boys first:
Operators of name-brand hotel, restaurant and service chains and franchises with thousands of employees at locations scattered across the U.S. are eligible. Lobbyists are also pushing the Small Business Administration to interpret the law generously to help sectors devastated by mandatory business closures and stay-at-home orders, possibly making the aid available to international fast food and lodging giants and allowing individual owners to get around a $10 million cap on loans.
While Congress could approve more money later on, the program as it stands is expected to run out quickly. That could mean applicants who have the financial and legal expertise of a larger organization might be able to maximize their benefits, not leaving much for smaller businesses, especially those who wait or have problems applying.
“I’m certain that’s what’s going to happen,” said Lauren Friel, the owner of a wine bar in Somerville, Massachusetts, that has been closed for three weeks. “It makes me really angry. It’s outrageous. They are going to walk away with their pockets full of cash.”
…”It’s hard for me to say this: There is only $350 billion in this fund. Every big restaurant and hotel chain is going to be going after this money. It’s not going to last,” said Ron Feldman, chief development officer at ApplePie Capital, which has been helping businesses get ready to apply.
“If you want to get this loan, speed is your friend,” Feldman told 2,000 franchise industry officials on a conference call this week [Ryan J. Foley, “Stimulus Aid for ‘Small Business’ Will Go to Some Big Chains,” AP via Minneapolis Star Tribune, 2020.04.02].
If Congress adds money to the small-business relief fund, it should consider stronger measures to direct the aid to the real small businesses most in need, as appears to be happening with the individual relief.