Hundreds of thousands of small businesses shuttered by COVID-19 are at risk of closing for good in the coming weeks. Very small businesses and those with historically limited access to capital are especially vulnerable.
With little or no revenue coming in, entire sectors of the small business economy face extinction. To protect Main Street jobs, workers, and businesses while they hibernate and adapt to save lives during the pandemic, the Institute for Local Self-Reliance has joined a range of allies in demanding a federal small business aid program with the following characteristics:
●Direct subsidies — not loans — for all employers with 500 and fewer employees to 1) retain or bring back their workers at full wages and benefits and 2) cover fixed costs, including rent, mortgages, utilities, and insurance payments. (Most other industrialized countries including Germany, Britain, and Denmark have adopted this approach.)
●A rapid, streamlined process designed to provide subsidies for all impacted employers and independent contractors with minimal barriers to entry and no confusion or uncertainty.
●Delivered through the US Treasury, with resources directed to multiple agencies, including state and local governments, to ensure effective and universal take-up — especially among communities of color and other disadvantaged groups.
Representative Pramila Jayapal and Senator Josh Hawley have both drafted distinct legislative proposals that follow our set of principles by directly subsidizing small business payroll and other operating costs. Representative Jayapal’s proposal can be found here, and Senator Hawley’s can be found here.
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