Andy Puzder: Latest round of PPP coronavirus relief shows hard-working Americans not forgotten

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President Trump just signed the fourth round of coronavirus legislation, a $484 billion relief bill that will help American small businesses and hospitals, as well as expand coronavirus testing so Americans can get back to work as soon as possible. The lion’s share of the funding, $310 billion, will go directly to the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), a massively popular program that has already disbursed $350 billion to businesses all over the country, and now requires a fresh infusion of cash to meet demand.

This isn’t just about protecting small businesses from potential bankruptcy, though it will certainly accomplish that. Small businesses employ nearly half the American workforce, so this legislation is also properly seen as direct relief for working families.

Millions of Americans have been holding their metaphorical breath as House Democrats delayed the latest round of relief with partisan demands for unrelated provisions such as mandating racial and gender quotas for businesses.

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Congressional Republicans tried to pass a clean bill rapidly replenishing the PPP funding small businesses so desperately need. As House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., inexcusably delayed passage of a clean bill, both sides ultimately agreed to a package that also includes $75 billion for hospitals, $25 billion for COVID-19 testing, and $60 billion for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program, which provides up to $10,000 to help small businesses weather temporary revenue fluctuations — funding that Republicans never objected to in any event.

It may lack the eye-popping bottom line of the $2.2 trillion CARES Act that established the PPP and provided direct cash payments to American families, but this latest round of relief is arguably just as important — not only for the actual financial support it provides but for the confidence it inspires among workers and business owners who were previously worried that their financial fates might hinge on partisan politics in Washington.

Notably, socialist Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC), D-N.Y., was the only Democrat in the House or the Senate to vote against the bill, demonstrating yet again the economic acumen that drove Amazon from New York City and the associated jobs from her congressional district.  Amazon is, of course, adding jobs during this crisis whole AOC is encouraging people not to work even when the crisis ends. Enough said.

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Now that the final bipartisan legislation has passed Congress, the president can ensure that Americans get the relief they’ve been waiting for while shoring up our economic foundations to facilitate a rapid recovery once the coronavirus is defeated.

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Dealing with the immediate public health crisis posed by COVID-19 and then getting Americans back to work as speedily as possible has always been Trump’s long-term goal, and the fourth COVID-19 relief bill is a huge part of making that possible.

Trump is well aware of the hardship that millions of hard-working men and women are facing as coronavirus lockdowns shut down their businesses and force them to stay home from work. A lifelong businessman himself, the president implicitly understands that every American worker is an “essential” worker — at least as far as they and their families are concerned.

As we fight the deadly coronavirus pandemic together, the president’s message is loud and clear: he wants every American to know that he has not forgotten them and will never forget them.

The same president who delivered historically low unemployment rates and record small business optimism during his first three years in office is exactly the person we can trust to take the necessary actions to get Americans back to work as soon as possible and return us to the strong and growing economy we enjoyed before the pandemic upended our lives.

On the public health side of the equation, the Trump administration is rapidly deploying makeshift hospitals to coronavirus hot spots, arranging the emergency airlifts of tests and medical equipment from overseas, and cutting Food and Drug Administration (FDA) red tape to accelerate the creation of coronavirus tests, treatments, and vaccines.

Combined with state and local stay-at-home orders, these efforts are allowing us to gain the upper hand over COVID-19 much faster than most experts anticipated, and the White House has already issued guidelines to help local officials determine when they can safely begin scaling back restrictions on daily life.

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In the meantime, we have to make absolutely sure that our efforts to protect ourselves from the virus don’t create far worse catastrophes down the road, which means keeping the engine of our economy — small businesses — from running out of gas completely. The president’s goal is for every business that needs a loan to receive one, just as he made it possible for every American who needed a ventilator to receive one.

Throughout this crisis, President Trump and the Republicans in Congress have consistently ensured that the federal government was ready to step in wherever necessary to protect American lives and livelihoods. The latest round of relief for struggling businesses is just another example.

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