Rep. Estes Supports Liability Reform, More PPP Funds in Next Round of Coronavirus Recovery
As part of NFIB’s Virtual Fly-In, Rep. Ron Estes told Kansas small business owners that when Congress passed the Paycheck Protection Program earlier this year, they knew it was an essential program. Rep. Estes gave kudos to the Treasury Department and the Small Business Administration, the two entities which approved the first loans just one week after the PPP was rolled out. Rep. Estes acknowledged that the rules surrounding the program had to be revised a few times afterwards because Congress was ample to pass the program so quickly.
Rep. Estes put the PPP program in perspective for Kansas small business owners, calling it a success, saying that the SBA authorized the first loans just 13 days after the funds were authorized, and approved the same amount of money in a few days of the program as the SBA did the past 13 years in order to get the money into the hands of small business owners. In the Wichita area alone, Rep. Estes said that the SBA gave out 27,000 PPP loans which saved 286,000 jobs.
“It’s critical that we safely and efficiently reopen our state and our nation and help Americans return to work,” said Rep. Estes. “Small businesses have long-been the economic engine of this nation, yet so many of them have felt the brunt of this pandemic. As we focus on recovery, we need to pursue common sense solutions that encourage the type of healthy growth our economy experienced before the COVID-19-related shutdowns.”
When the coronavirus first hit, Rep. Estes said himself as well as Congress as a whole had the expectation was that it was going to be a two to three-month endeavor, admitted that but hindsight is 20/20. Rep. Estes said, of course, this pandemic has not turned out that way, and added that Congress need to come back and revisit that soon. Rep. Estes wants to look at a second round of PPP loans, saying that now the question is: how do you do that safely and securely?
Another key component of the next round of recovery, Rep. Estes said, should be liability reform. “We need to make sure that trial lawyers can’t file a lawsuit simply because someone walked into a small business and said they got sick or that an employee went to work and the next day they got sick and said they got it in the workplace but they can’t prove it,” said Rep. Estes. “Unfortunately, it’s an election year and politics has taken center stage. There has been a lot of political posturing around the Post Office and how it’s funded. The Post Office has struggled for years with funding, but we want to keep it going and I support that.”
Rep. Estes briefed Kansas small business owners about the latest on the coronavirus pandemic in Kansas, saying that the state has seen an uptick in COVID-19 cases but has not seen an increase of hospitalizations and deaths. Hopefully, Rep. Estes, said, there will be a vaccine soon. “I’m optimistic it will happen in the fall and while some will be more effective than others, we need to get people in the mindset of getting back to normal and getting out and about and we’ve got to start doing that.”
As for the Paycheck Protection Program, Rep. Estes said that small business owners should be able to deduct their expenses from the PPP loans, saying that it defeats the purpose of the loan if you have to do that. “Then it’s not a forgiven loan, it’s a flow of funds from one pocketbook into the next and it doesn’t make sense to do it that way. So many people in D.C. have never owned a small business, they don’t have experience managed cash flow. There are so many small business concepts that members of congress don’t know, they’ve spent their lives as an aide to a member of Congress or as an elected official or working at a think tank or a non-profit. We have to train and educate people about what it actually means to be a small business owner. I’m not sure what the IRS was thinking on this. Congress has got to come back. The clock is ticking for small business owners and we’ve got to jump on it and get that addressed before the end of the year. It puts you small business owners in a box,” said Estes.