Small Business Alone Needs $1 Trillion Now
Restaurants and shops are closed across the U.S. to try to slow the spread of the coronavirus. The Federal government has started to address the resulting economic pain with an emergency declaration by President Donald Trump releasing $50 billion for public-health measures and congressional passage of a multi-billion dollar relief bill providing some paid sick leave and extended unemployment benefits, among other assistance. Fortunately, the U.S. Senate stepped up on Thursday to do more. Senate Republicans released a trillion-dollar economic recovery proposal that includes $1,200 direct payments to many Americans, reduces the tax liability of large corporations and provides support for ailing industries like airlines. A crucial part is a plan by Senator Marco Rubio of Florida for government grants and loans of up to $10 million to eligible small- and mid-sized businesses, conditional on those businesses retaining their employees during the crisis. As the legislative process continues, the bill can be improved. A critical step would be to ensure that government grants would extend to non-payroll expenses, such as rent. In addition, the size of the program needs to be significantly increased from its current $300 billion. Bolder action than Rubio has proposed is required. The coronavirus has delivered what could be a knockout blow to small business.