With 146k Mainers Filing For Unemployment, Mainers Look To House To Fix Susan Collins’ Paycheck Protection Program

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Small Business Owners Who Employ the Vast Majority of Mainers Fear Problems with the PPP Pushed by Senator Susan Collins Could Lead to More Layoffs and Permanent Closures if Proposed Fixes Aren’t Passed
83% of Maine Small Businesses Have Not Received Assistance from PPP

Today, the US Department of Labor announced that 2.98 million Americans filed new claims for unemployment last week, bringing the eight-week total for new filings to over 36 million nationwide. In Maine, 21,000 workers filed new claims for benefits last week, with approximately 146,000 filing unemployment claims since March 15 when the economic shutdown due to coronavirus began. According to Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, 40 percent of US households making less than $40,000 annually experienced job losses during the month of March. 

This news comes as Maine small business owners, who employ nearly 60 percent of working Mainers, are calling on Senator Susan Collins to take action to fix her flawed Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) that has left the majority of Maine small businesses behind — all while large corporations receive millions from it. 

“If the goal of the PPP is truly to save Maine’s small businesses — and the hundreds of thousands of jobs they provide — Susan Collins needs to listen to Maine small business owners who are pointing out the fundamental flaws in this program,” said Willy Ritch, executive director of 16 Counties Coalition. “This isn’t a time for her to worry about being wrong, we need Senator Collins to stand up and do what’s right for Maine’s economy.” 

Approximately 83 percent of Maine small businesses have not received assistance from the PPP. And Maine small business owners who have been able to secure loans are now concerned that poor guidance and restrictions on loan forgiveness included in the fine print of the PPP. Many worry these issues could force them to lay off workers or jeopardize their access to unemployment, and will saddle their already struggling businesses with additional debt and expenses. 

Earlier this week, the US House of Representatives proposed fixes to these problems with the PPP in the HEROES Act. The proposed changes, which echo those sought by Maine Representative Jared Golden, include extending the timeframe for which funds can be used from eight weeks to 24 weeks, and loosening prohibitive restrictions on PPP loan forgiveness that currently require 75 percent of funds be spent on payroll, so that businesses can cover significant ongoing costs such as rent without being penalized.  


Senator Collins Has Received Over $2 Million From Corporate Donors Cited by President Trump in Calls to Lift Stay-at-Home Orders Supported by the Majority of Mainers 

Maine Senator Susan Collins has received over $2 million in campaign contributions from corporations and CEOs named to President Trump’s Great American Economic Revival Industry Groups — a group tasked with advising on the reopening of the US economy. Members of the group that have contributed to Collins include Republican mega donor Steve Schwarzman, and some of the country’s biggest corporations: Amazon, Eli Lilly, Wells Fargo, and Aetna. 

These companies, and their CEOs, have profited from the pandemic — and the government response to the crisis, including from the botched Paycheck Protection Program championed by Susan Collins. 

“Susan Collins is taking millions from corporate donors who are actively profiting from the pandemic — and policies like the Paycheck Protection Program, pushed by Senator Collins and her Republican colleagues,” said Willy Ritch, executive director of 16 Counties Coalition. “We need Susan Collins to speak up, and say she’ll listen to medical experts and put Mainers on the front lines of the pandemic, and their safety, first, before the profits of her corporate donors.” 

President Trump also cites the task force as the impetus for his calls to end restrictions put in place to combat the spread of coronavirus, in opposition to the nation’s top health experts. While the majority of Mainers support extending stay-at-home orders, Susan Collins has thus far refused to say who she sides with in the effort to lift the restrictions. 

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About the 16 Counties CoalitionThe 16 Counties Coalition is a year-long grassroots advocacy campaign aimed at amplifying the voices of families and working Mainers and encouraging Senator Susan Collins to vote in favor of the people she was elected to represent and defend. The campaign will mobilize members through small- and large-scale events, through digital action, and paid television, radio, and digital ads.

DemCast is an advocacy-based 501(c)4 nonprofit. We have made the decision to build a media site free of outside influence. There are no ads. We do not get paid for clicks. If you appreciate our content, please consider a small monthly donation.

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