As Congress launched a historic bailout to keep businesses afloat at the outset of the pandemic, government officials stressed that the loans were for mom-and-pop operations that didn’t have another easily available lifeline.
“This was a program designed for small businesses,” then-Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said, as companies like Shake Shack and Potbelly made headlines for grabbing millions from the newly created Paycheck Protection Program. “It was not a program that was designed for public companies that had liquidity.”
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy was even clearer. “We will go after those big companies that cheat the system,” he told Fox News that spring.
But the tough talk hasn’t translated into action. Instead, a ProPublica review has found, the government gave out generous loans to companies that may not have needed them. And it has often forgiven the loans, despite having said that publicly traded companies would be unlikely to merit such generous treatment.The Government Gave Free PPP Money to Public Companies Despite Warning Them Not to Apply — ProPublica