Where Did The Money Go?
According to the SBA, more that 4.5 million small business firms in the U.S. received about $511 billion in Paycheck Protection Program loans. The PPP was the centerpiece of the $2.2 trillion coronavirus spending bill passed by Congress in late March.
So, which businesses received how much money? How effective was the taxpayer funded stimulus? Were any applications fraudulent? These questions and others may go unanswered.
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin tells Congress that information is proprietary and releasing the business names and loan amounts could put recipients at a competitive disadvantage. For instance, one company could figure out what a competitor pays employees via a PPP disclosure. This policy is a reversal of previous guidance from Mnuchin.
Expectedly, plenty of parties are gathering on the other side of the issue demanding transparency. Both Congress and the Government Accountability Office want the information for oversight and reporting purposes. Also, 11 separate news organizations have sued the SBA in federal court in Washington asking a judge to order the release of the loan information.
Remember, the PPP generated plenty of criticism initially when it was disclosed that several large, publicly traded companies received loans ahead of small businesses. The most likely outcome, it seems, is some sort of compromise. Stay tuned.