With apologies to William Shakespeare
I’ve written two letters to my Congresswoman, Lois Frankel, over the last two days. I won’t bore you with the entire letters, but I thought you’d be interested in the subject: PPP.
The first letter described how the PPP is affecting someone I know, someone very close to me, an independent contractor, a “gig worker” in today’s parlance, and the trials and tribulations of her attempts to receive the PPP loan she deserved.
Here’s how I described this individual’s situation in my correspondence to Representative Frankel:
When the first tranche was announced, she dutifully pulled together the application after weeding through the overly complicated instructions on the government website. Since she has a banking relationship with Chase, she made the application with them. The response she received from Chase was basically a “don’t call us, we’ll call you.” She never heard from Chase again.
I called my “private” banker at Chase to see if he had any advice. He told me that the loans were only going to clients in the “business banking” part of the bank and suggested that she open a “business” checking account. She did. But guess what? To be eligible, that account had to be in place no later than February 15. So, Chase was out.
She did some research for the second tranche and discovered that virtually EVERY major bank required a previous business account. And the smaller, virtually unknown, community-type banks required any type of relationship…but all in place no later than February 15.
In doing that research, she discovered that PayPal(!) was participating in the PPP program, so she applied with them. But now that we’ve seen that the second tranche is virtually gone, her expectation of getting any money is pretty slim.
The situation I described in my letter is not unique to my gig worker. It is typical. And because of that, I included this in my letter:
Although I can and will blame President Trump and his inept administration for most of the grievous errors made during this pandemic, this is one is not on him. Yes, the Treasury Secretary is overseeing this program through the SBA. And yes, the SBA’s computers are the ones crashing. But the fault here is with Congress for passing a bill that is fundamentally unworkable.
Why is this Congress’ fault? Because you passed a law that is so complicated, with so many hidden or unknown restrictions, that an applicant would have a better chance getting money at a casino!
I followed up yesterday’s letter after reading today that the NBA Los Angeles Lakers applied for, and received, a $4.6 million loan from the first tranche of the program. While the team returned the money, they did so not because of a fundamental disagreement with the program but because, “Once we found out the funds from the program had been depleted, we repaid the loan.” Really? Or was it due to the embarrassment that they applied for, and received, a piddling, to them, $4.6 million meant for “small” businesses?
I asked the Congresswoman,
The bigger question, as I asked you yesterday, is how did Congress design, and the Administration oversee, a program that would allow an organization like the Lakers, the eighth most valuable sports team in the world, worth an estimated $3.7 billion, with an annual player payroll of about $120 million, apply for and receive the loan in the first place?
To paraphrase William Shakespeare, “Something is rotten in the United States!”
Because every recent letter I’ve sent to Representative Frankel has ended up with a generic “auto-reply” explaining how we should cope with the coronavirus pandemic, I closed one of the letters with this:
We’re told to get something done, “write your Congressman.” Unfortunately, like the PPP, it doesn’t seem to be a system that works very well.