New Money, No Immigration.

Steve Mnuchin talked up the government’s flagship small business rescue vehicle on Tuesday, as the Senate cleared $484 billion in additional funding for virus relief.

Of the total, $320 billion will go to top up the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which ran out of money last week, as business owners thronged web portals and banks to apply for $349 billion in forgivable loans.

Over 1 million companies with fewer than 10 workers received funding, Mnuchin said, in an effort to deflect criticism centered around the fact that some large, publicly traded firms tapped the program for tens of millions. In the most high profile example, Shake Shack agreed to return a $10 million loan it received.

Read more: Shake Shack Tycoon Says You Can Have Your $10 Million Back

“There have been some big businesses that have taken these loans”, Mnuchin said Tuesday afternoon, during the daily coronavirus briefing. “I was pleased to see that Shake Shack returned the money”.

Mnuchin went on to say he plans to release some “FAQs” on this issue. “The intent of this money was not for big public companies that have access to capital”. Shake Shack, you’re reminded, tapped the market for $150 million late last week.


The PPP, Mnuchin said, has saved more than 30 million jobs.

I would note that while there has been quite a bit of criticism around the extent to which large firms (like Shake Shack and Potbelly) have participated in the program, and while it most assuredly is a shame that it took Congress as long as it did to come to a compromise on releasing more funding, the rollout of PPP could have gone far, far worse. If you recall, Mnuchin essentially demanded that banks navigate impossibly choppy legal and logistical waters in order to launch the program without delay. All things considered, this has gone – dare I say it? – some semblance of “well”.

Trump said he plans to ask larger companies to return any emergency funding. You can expect  some amusing tweets on that, especially if any of the companies in question are already on the president’s radar for any reason.

The balance of the new money – i.e., the difference between the $484 billion headline figure mentioned above and the $320 billion that will be allocated to the PPP – will go to hospitals and for testing, as expected in the compromise between Democrats and Mitch McConnell.

“The hard work of negotiation paid off”, Chuck Schumer remarked, adding that “this legislation is significantly better” than McConnell’s original proposal. He reiterated the “phase four” virus relief bill should focus on assisting state and local governments and providing hazard pay for those workers who are most at risk. Why that needs to wait (i.e., why Republicans decided not to clear that money now) is anyone’s guess.

At the same press briefing, Trump was naturally asked about his decision to ban immigration for 60 days. The order is being written today and may be signed tomorrow, he mused. It will only apply to those seeking permanent residency and he promised “the farmers will not be affected by this at all”.

A draft version circulating on Tuesday showed the administration intends to exempt those looking for work in “food production and directly helping to protect the supply chain”. Here’s an additional passage from the draft:

I have determined that we cannot jump start the domestic economy if Americans are forced to compete against an artificially enlarged labor pool caused by the introduction of foreign workers. I have determined that the entry of most aliens as permanent or temporary workers in the immediate term would have adverse impacts on the national interest.

“By pausing immigration, we’ll help put unemployed Americans first in line for jobs as America reopens”, Trump explained. “It would be wrong and unjust for Americans laid off by the virus to be replaced with new immigrant labor flown in from abroad”.


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