- Businesses are angry big firms got loans meant for them
- Eroding faith in fairness threatens repeat of 2008 reaction
By Bob Ivry, Sonali Basak and Emma Kinery | 24 April 2020
BLOOMBERG — Robyn Shultz was waiting for approval of her $40,000 small-business loan last week when the government’s first-come-first-served lending program ran out of cash.
Shultz, 60, owns Quality Electric Co. in Birmingham, Alabama, with her husband, Steve Bearden. She said the assistance from the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program would have helped keep six full-time employees on the payroll. Now she says time is running out. The additional $320 billion approved by Congress on Thursday may be too late. She’s not sure she can stay afloat.
“Smaller companies like us are probably just going to be washed under the rug,” Shultz said.
The swift and unprecedented response by the U.S. government and the Federal Reserve to the coronavirus’s economic fallout doesn’t mean much to folks like Shultz, who see help coming too late or not at all.
Policy makers in Congress, the Treasury Department and the central bank have taken a lesson from the last financial meltdown, 12 years ago, when ordinary Americans were left to fend for themselves and millions lost their homes. This time, they’ve included individuals and small businesses in their aid packages in a way they didn’t in 2008, when bank bailouts, even as they saved the system from collapse, sparked outcry over tilted playing fields for the rich and ignited a backlash that altered the political direction of the country.
But if one of the lessons of 2008 is to help Main Street as well as Wall Street, the lesson seems to be only partly learned. Americans live in two separate and unequal worlds, and the bailouts reflect this. […]