MD State Director Pens Op-ed Encouraging Congress to Pass Small Business Relief

Date: December 02, 2020

Sen. Ben Cardin has been advocating for additional PPP funds

The following op-ed by NFIB’s Maryland State Director Mike O’Halloran was published in the Annapolis Evening Capital on Sunday, November 29:

Get it done Congress before small businesses shut their doors forever

The future for struggling small businesses eight months into the pandemic doesn’t look rosier, but foreboding.

One in five small business owners are saying they can’t survive six months under current economic conditions, and more than half say they will need additional financial assistance in the next year. Congress must stop putting off meaningful negotiations and come to the rescue now before it’s too late.

U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin, a leader on the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, deserves credit for working with a bipartisan team to devise the first Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) which saved so many small businesses and jobs early on. But those funds are long gone.

Now shops, restaurants, and many other types of hard-hit businesses are on the brink of disaster as they face growing restrictions, fewer patrons, and owners use up the rest of their savings to remain open.

Now, as Cardin is offering up another bill for a second round of PPP funding, all we see is politics, posturing, and paralysis in Congress. On the Senate floor recently, Cardin said “We know small businesses need help. They are in desperate need of help. Our economy needs help. Americans need the Senate to stop playing procedural political games and to be serious about taking up legislation that can deal with their needs.”

He is right and we need him to urge his leadership to act.

This inaction is very hard for people outside the D.C. beltway to understand. Especially for small business owners who risked everything and worked for years to build their businesses only to see that evaporate before their eyes as a result of government edicts. They need relief, they need it now. So do their employees.

If the gridlock can be broken to allow for secondary PPP loans, some tweaks are needed to make the program even more successful.

The forgiveness application process must be streamlined. Kinks need to be worked out on how PPP loans interact with the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans — more than a quarter of small businesses have both.

Small business owners are upset that when they committed to taking a PPP loan they weren’t told they would be taxed on forgiven expenses. That news came late in the game when the IRS issued surprise guidance that went against what Congress intended. Congress should overturn this guidance and protect small businesses from that surprise tax increase.

Details aside, if relief doesn’t come quickly many small businesses will permanently close. Why should members of Congress care?

Because, while they are small, together these businesses generate over 40% of the nation’s GDP and they create about two-thirds of the new jobs. Small businesses keep every community across the state vibrant and make Main Street a great place to go. It will be a sad day if they shutter their doors.

We hope Cardin can convince his colleagues of the importance of passing a bill before the year ends.

C’mon Congress. Let’s get it done for the good of the country.

Mike O’Halloran is state director of NFIB in Maryland, a small business association with thousands of members in the state.

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