WASHINGTON – National Economic Council Chairman Larry Kudlow on Sunday said he supported Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin’s decision not to disclose the recipients of the more than $ 500 billion distributed through the Paycheck Protection Program which was created in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Congress approved more than $ 650 billion for the PPP loan program in the CARES Act and subsequent legislation. It was intended to help businesses keep workers on their payrolls during shutdowns caused by the coronavirus pandemic, which has pushed unemployment to levels not seen since the Great Depression and triggered a recession while killing more than 115 000 people in the United States.
Mnuchin told Congress at a hearing last week that the names of loan recipients and the amounts are “proprietary information.” Although he claimed the information is confidential, some lawmakers see the move as an attempt to shirk responsibility for how the money is spent and have said it goes against previous promises of transparency. by Mnuchin.
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“I think when Secretary Mnuchin talked about transparency, he talked about the transparency of the loan appraisal process and then the loan distribution,” Kudlow said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
“Now, when it comes to the name of each company, I don’t think that promise was ever made,” he continued. “And I don’t think it’s necessary. I think what’s necessary is to make sure that the legalities have been followed, that the credit and lending process has been followed, and that the people who could qualify will actually get it. ”
Many businesses, especially the smaller ones, struggled to obtain loans when the Small Business Administration began distributing the funds, and several hundred publicly traded businesses received loans despite their likely ability to obtain the funds. money from private financial sources. Some large companies have said they will repay their loans.
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“Given the many problems with the program, it is imperative that American taxpayers know if the money is going where Congress wanted it – to really small, unbanked small businesses,” Senate Minority Leader Charles said on Friday. Schumer, DN.Y. “The administration’s resistance to transparency is outrageous and only increases suspicion about how the funds are distributed and who actually benefits from them.”
Like Mnuchin, Kudlow cited privacy concerns as the reason for not naming the companies.
The White House’s senior economic adviser praised the program’s overall success, highlighting the speed at which loans were made and citing the surprisingly positive unemployment report, which found 2.5 million jobs created in May. .
“We sent around $ 510 billion,” Kudlow said. “It is probably one of the most successful rescue programs in American history.”
Kudlow said the economy is in a “recovery phase”, with improving retail sales and a rising real estate market. He predicted “good economic growth of 20%” in the second half of this year and said “2021 will be another strong and solid year”.
Due to his optimism about the state of the economy, Kudlow opposed the extension of the federal unemployment benefit by $ 600 which increased the unemployment Americans received from states under the law. CARES, calling weekly payments a “deterrent.”
“I mean, we pay people not to work,” Kudlow said, adding that some were getting more than their regular wages.
“I think people want to go back to work,” he said. “However, at the margin, incentives matter. And so we’ve heard business after business, industry after industry, and there’s already evidence that this effect is happening.”
Contribution: The Associated Press
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