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Mnuchin, Powell push for more small business aid

Published 12/01/2020, 03:38 PM
Updated 12/01/2020, 03:45 PM

(SOT- U.S. TREASURY SECRETARY STEVEN MNUCHIN)

"Based upon the recent economic data, I continue to believe that a targeted fiscal package is the most appropriate federal response."

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell were back on Capitol Hill Tuesday - urging lawmakers to agree on another economic stimulus package.

Speaking to the Senate Banking Committee, Mnuchin said small businesses, particularly, restaurants are in dire need of assistance, and could be helped by another round of funding to the Paycheck Protection Program, or PPP, which helped bolster the economy earlier this year.

"The president and I believe that restaurants had been unfairly targeted, and I'd urge Congress to support another $300 billion dollars for PPP. This would have a real impact. These restaurants need grants. They don't need loans."

Some of that money, he urged, could be repurposed from funds he is clawing back from other Fed programs, which are set to expire at the end of the year.

His decision to shut some emergency lending programs has sparked outrage from Democrats, and set off a testy exchange between the Treasury Secretary and Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown.

(SOT- SENATOR SHERROD BROWN (D)-OHIO)

"Other than using your final months in office to work for the people for whom you have sworn to serve, you appear to be trying to sabotage our economy on the way out the door."

(SOT- MNUCHIN)

"My decision not to extend these facilities was not an economic decision. I'm surprised to hear Senator Brown use words like sabotage, no legitimate justification, delusional, malpractice, time for action."

Powell, who is on record as disagreeing with Mnuchin's decision, decided not to pile on the criticism, choosing instead to focus on what the two agree on.

"Our thinking is we would have left facilities in place to be backstops. We don't second-guess the Secretary's decision about the CARES act money because that's entirely his decision to make but I think central banks would have generally done that. What we're hearing is that there are a lot of small businesses that are at risk of going out of business during this winter, which could be a tough few months. There are parts of the economy that will need help or might need help to get that last span of the bridge in place to get to the other side of the pandemic."

Help could soon be on the way. After weeks of deadlock, a bipartisan group of lawmakers have put together a new stimulus plan.

Any plan, says Mnuchin, needs to be voted on quickly.

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