As More Than 24 k Mainers File New Unemployment Claims, Maine Small Businesses Still Seek Fixes To Susan Collins’ Paycheck Protection Program

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Small Business Owners Who Employ the Vast Majority of Mainers Look to House to Lead on Making Changes to Susan Collins’ PPP that has Failed to Deliver on Promises 

New S&P Report: PPP “largely missed the neediest businesses it aimed to save with its first round”

Today, the US Department of Labor announced that 2.1 million Americans filed new claims for unemployment last week, bringing the total for new filings to over 40 million nationwide since the pandemic crisis began in mid-March. In Maine, 24,500 workers filed new claims for benefits last week. 


This news comes as Maine small business owners, who employ nearly 60 percent of working Mainers, are still waiting for Congress to pass fixes to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which Maine Senator Susan Collins has taken credit for authoring. Further, S&P released a report today that found “63 percent of the PPP’s initial $350 billion in forgivable loans went to sectors less affected by the shutdowns.” “The loans also skewed toward larger businesses, meaning there were fewer to go around,” reported the Washington Post. 


“Clearly the PPP is a deeply flawed program that is not doing what Susan Collin claims it is — helping the small businesses and workers who need assistance the most. Instead of stubbornly insisting PPP is working just fine, it’s time for Collins to take action to fix the problems she wrote into the bill in the first place. ,” said Willy Ritch, executive director of 16 Counties Coalition. “Susan Collins has been leading from behind on the PPP, but Maine small business owners need to step forward and fix the program so it supports real small businesses and the Mainers they employ, not corporate interests.” 


From the outset, the PPP has been plagued by numerous issues that have posed a variety of problems for the Maine small business owners Senator Collins’ promised the program was designed to help. Most recently, a group of Maine small business owners announced they have filed suit against the Small Business Administration alleging they were improperly denied access to PPP funds. 


Maine small business owners are frustrated that Susan Collins has refused to engage with their concerns about key provisions of the PPP. These include poor guidance and restrictions on loan forgiveness included in the fine print of the program, and 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. 


And although the program was supposedly aimed at small businesses with less than 500 employees, thanks to an exception Collins put in the law, a big company with multiple locations could count each location separately. For example, AutoNation is a nationwide chain of car dealerships with over 26,000 employees that qualified for $77 million in PPP loans. 


Today, the US House of Representatives passed the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act, which implements changes requested by small business owners to provide greater access to loan forgiveness. While the bill takes much-needed action to fix barriers to loan forgiveness in the original legislation, it fails to address the “original sin” of the PPP: a loophole pushed by Maine Senator Susan Collins that allows big corporations to treat each of its separate locations as individual businesses. This “Collins loophole” has ensured that the PPP, a cornerstone of the federal relief effort, largely missed the neediest businesses it aimed to save.


Willy Ritch, executive director of 16 Counties Coalition issued this statement in response: 

“Maine workers and small business owners are grateful that the House has stepped in to make important changes to the PPP that Senator Collins hasn’t addressed. But until the Collins loophole is closed, big corporations will continue to benefit at the expense of Maine’s small businesses. This is yet another example of Susan Collins saying she’s working hard for everyday Mainers, while the policies she championed only deliver for her corporate donors.” 


This news comes as S&P released a report today that found “63 percent of the PPP’s initial $350 billion in forgivable loans went to sectors less affected by the shutdowns.” “The loans also skewed toward larger businesses, meaning there were fewer to go around,” reported the Washington Post. 


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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.


The 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.

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