U.S. Rep. John Curtis Talks with NFIB Utah Members

Date: May 02, 2020

Exclusive conference call provided important updates on federal loans

For Congressman John Curtis, small business is a highly personal matter. “I was a small-business owner before I was mayor; my father was a small-business owner; my grandfather was a small-business owner; I have two daughters with small businesses. It’s just really in our DNA.”

The congressman made that remark on an April 24 conference call arranged by NFIB Utah exclusively for its members. Congressman Curtis had just flown in after casting a ‘Yes’ vote for the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act the day before.

The Act added $321 billion more to the Paycheck Protection Program under the CARES Act, which had used up its original $349 billion allotment by April 16. Curtis said shoring up the PPP was the most important part of the Act.

“In my testimony before the Small Business Committee, yesterday, one of the things I said was that it won’t be government that pulls us out of this funk that we’re in right now, it will be small businesses.”

Small-business owners in the congressman’s district have not been shy about letting him know of their difficulties with obtaining PPP loans from banks. “I’m the first to know that the program is not perfect, but it picks up such a wide swath of businesses and it’s such an important part of recovery. The fact that we ran out of money so quickly shows just how important the program is … We could have done it better and taken months and months to do it, but that would have been the wrong decision.”

Loosen Some Restrictions

Also on the call were NFIB Utah State Director Candace Daly, NFIB Grassroots Manager Jake Braunger, and Kevin Kuhlman, NFIB senior director of federal government relations.

The next lobbying goal of NFIB’s, Kuhlman apprised the congressman of, is to loosen some of the restrictions in the PPP program, particularly its 75/25 formula. “We realize the goal of the program is to maintain payroll, but for many businesses without a lot of employees that may have higher overhead costs … that 75% payroll, 25% other expenses may be overly restrictive,” said Kuhlman.

Why Work?

The attractiveness of remaining unemployed was another topic touched upon by Congressman Curtis. “This is how the sausage is made,” he said in reference to quirks in the loan law, “and this is how we got to agreement … and some of these compromises had side effects. Really, all we can hope is to appeal to the better side of people, and if you’re a small-business owner and your employees are telling you, ‘Look, I’ll make more money on the unemployment rolls,’ we really have to … say that’s not what was intended. Sure, you can get away with that, but I need you here, and your country needs you here back at work. And that’s your part in helping us out of the pandemic.”

Get a Second Opinion

Addressing a difficulty many small-business owners have had getting information from their bank, the congressman advised, “If you had a serious illness, you’d be advised to get a second opinion. Don’t be afraid to get a second opinion on this. Banks are doing the best they can, but this is all new to them and they could make a mistake, so get a second opinion and be aggressive.”

Click the arrow on the graphic below to listen to the entire 33-minute conference call with Congressman John Curtis.

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