April 21, 2020

From Judith:

Mike, I am one of your biggest fans; however, I find the references to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) above to be tone deaf to what the true small business owner is experiencing.

Supposedly the PPP was a first-come, first-served program to protect small companies and their employees. The way it is being administered is egregious if it is anything like what my 29-year-old son experienced.

He and a college roommate own a metal fabrication and welding business that they started in 2015. They had five employees.

He applied to Pittsburgh National Corporation PNC, his banker, on the day that the program opened. Four days later, the banker at PNC contacted him to say that my son had not initialed the application in two places. He did so within three hours.

When he did not hear back from PNC on the status of his application, he contacted the banker repeatedly. No response at all until last Thursday, April 16, 2020, when the banker contacted him and said that she had submitted his application that day at 12:30 pm. The money had run out.

He had to furlough all of his employees. Now he is frantic to keep his business afloat.

He submitted a complaint to PNC and the banker called and offered him a loan at 7%. He has avoided debt like the plague. He and his partner have paid themselves paupers’ wages, believing that investing in equipment and good employees now would pay off in the future.

If he had not acted in a timely manner, he would not be upset. BUT when he did everything in time to get a loan and the "big guys" get funding and you didn't, it feels like crony capitalism at its worst.

Whom does he blame? Trump and Marco Rubio. Somebody had to write and approve the bill. He believes that they left loopholes for the banks and the connected.

RELATED READING:  Just stop with the class warfare rhetoric on "CARES" Act and PPP

From the Gov:

Thank you so much for writing, Judith. I certainly don’t mean to be tone deaf about the real-world problems faced by small business owners; that’s why I’m highlighting your letter. As I said, this is the sort of bureaucratic nightmare that is common to virtually ALL government programs. It angers me to hear this story and think that loopholes might have been deliberately left in the bill to benefit the connected and savvy over independent small business owners such as your son who don’t have high-priced attorneys to make sure every “i” is dotted and every “t” crossed (and every blank initialed) on every page of the voluminous paperwork.

It’s hard to know exactly what happened here; did the banker deliberately set aside your son’s application in deference to more “important” applicants, or did his paperwork get lost in the shuffle of a deluge of applications. Either way, it’s unacceptable.

But the fact that all the money was gone so quickly underlies the need to end the political bickering and bargaining and replenish those funds NOW. I’ve been hearing economists say that even this infusion of $$$ is not going to be nearly enough, and they are worried. (It should worry us all.) As for your son’s bank, they should be apologizing profusely for delaying his application. They have the completed paperwork now, so as soon as more money is available, he needs to be AT THE HEAD OF THE LINE. If that doesn’t happen, I have two words for him after the crisis is over: “new bank.”

On the other hand, just a few moments ago (this is Monday afternoon), my researcher heard a report of a major, MAJOR financial institution being “out of money” for small businesses who were similarly right there with their applications on the very first day. Had it all been earmarked for big-deal clients? We’ll be looking into this. And when Congress (finally) approves more funding for the program, they might also want to take a look at how the program is already being abused and quickly close those loopholes. Emphasis on the word "quickly."

Thanks again, Judith, for your perspective. I hope your son gets the money in time to keep his business together and that he and his employees are able to get back to work soon. I’m not sure how shutting down a metal fabrication/welding plant with five employees (or any number, really, as long as they’re taking basic precautions) is going to affect the spread of coronavirus one way or the other.

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Comments 1-22 of 22

  • marina verdun

    04/23/2020 05:27 AM

    There are many of us who have not received the payment on April 15. I receive a measly SS payment every month directly to my bank account. Many of my friends said they did not receive payment either. I have not filed income tax for last 2 years except an extension. What i read and when I look at the proper IRS entry, I got no where. Wait. What? So how do dead folks get money and when if ever will we get the money?

  • Arthur Rittenhouse

    04/22/2020 01:39 PM

    The bank is the culprit! We started by downloading the app on the 1st or 2nd of April contacted the bank to see what all was needed. Got the info needed and to the bank late on Fri the 3rd of April. The bank set up an appointment at 1pm on the 7th, the papers were all laid out, marked where to sign and initial and the money was in the account later that same day!


  • Patricia Varhol

    04/22/2020 12:14 PM

    I keep hearing these stories from small business owners in our area who are not getting any help. And then I’ve heard McDonald’s has gotten money. How is McDonald’s a “small” business? Their drive-through lines have been packed this whole time. I bet they had an increase in revenue, not a loss. And then they get a bonus? Kudos to Shake Shack for giving the money back. In the meantime my husband and I are still waiting for our checks. We want to support our small businesses with it as soon as we can.

  • Rosemary Scott

    04/22/2020 11:11 AM

    On this subject of payments, my husband and I qualify for the $2400 stimulus payment but have not gotten anything. We have our bank information on file from our 2018 taxes, and are both on Social Security with direct deposit.
    I went to Get My Payment, filled out the form and submitted it It says we're qualified, but a week has gone by, my friends all got their money deposited on day one, and we got nothing. Are they still depositing money? What do I do if we never get our money? I don't see anyplace where I can say, "Hey, I never got paid".

    Can you offer any advice/assistance?

  • Ronald Bangert

    04/22/2020 09:30 AM

    This is a sad commentary on seemingly good intentions of the professionals advising the President and Governors in this Season. In fact, I have not heard of any positive reports from small business owners attempting to access the monies put forth in this stimulus. And all those interviewed are complying and quite sincere.

    Trust in the "plan" is beginning to erode. Essential and non essential workers is dangerously close to sparking class wars like never before, the 'haves vs. the 'have nots' while the erosion of the Civil liberties is joyfully embraced, sadly, by Democratic leadership who are drooling for the opportunity to rewrite America.

    My wife and I have watched the President briefing every day. Much can be discerned by what is said, and unsaid. (We're seeing too much repetition, so much were beginning to tune out. Perhaps the liberal Media has something to do with that). How questions are asked and answered as leadership attempts to stay ahead of Covid while it keeps rolls along. We must get back to work. We can't print enough money to sustain basic needs if it never reaches the VOTERS, I mean, Small Business Owners, their employees and families. Perception v. Reality.

    49% of the folks earn $100,000 or more annually in the US! Wow! 6 figure income seems a lot. It can be....however the median savings account is between $7-9,000, when you factor all annual wage earners! If not, average American savings $39-41,000. Is an average American 'essential'? Are beurocrats essential? Elected officials? Remember, essential workers are still getting paid as we inch along, non essential (22 million SOULS last time I looked) are filing for unemployment and watching whatever savings they have, and hopes with it, vaporize.

    Hopefully this 'squeeze we are in will expose all the BAD players in the political arena and awaken the conscience of Americans. It is obvious the democratic party is now the 'party of hate, and November is around the corner. Expect a large turnout at the polls!

    As far as the Church is concerned, this is our opportunity to enter into the Sabbath Rest of God. When I was a boy in the 50's & 60's only essential businesses were open on Sunday, (u.e. gas stations,
    restaurants for family time) everything else was closed, the Sabbath was observed. The rest of the week the sidewalks rolled up at 5 p.m. We need to quiet our hearts and hear His voice to enter into His rest. We have brought nothing into this world, and can take nothing with us when we leave. Abraham was the Father of Faith. He listened to His voice and obeyed. This is before the Law. (Ten Commandments, the priesthood, etc.) Moses obeyed the voice of God too, and was called the Friend of God. Jesus was the Son of God, the Word of God, the Voice of God, the Facebif God....He was God. Now, as in times past, God has a plan, and the Church has an opportunity to get back to basic discipleship.....Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. Real Life is waiting!

  • Philip Stel

    04/22/2020 09:25 AM

    Is there nothing that your team can do to be in touch with this bank and this Banker and find out why the unacceptable delay that ended up in this business receiving no money at all?

  • D. McGowan

    04/22/2020 07:38 AM

    We need to remember that many of our large banks are headed by Democrats who are willing to carry out the party agenda just as the media do.

  • John Hensley

    04/21/2020 09:38 PM

    Dear Mike,

    It wasn't a loophole, it was governmental naivete'. The 1% for six months the banks are getting on this makes the banks want to shuffle their bigger clients to the top of the pile.

    My $12,600 loan would have netted the bank $63. My application was complete and at my bank 19 minutes after the bank started receiving applications. My friend's $115,000 netted the bank $562.50. That paperwork was submitted a few minutes after mine and MADE it to the sba portal. Mine never made it to the sba. I don't know many bankers that write loans for $63.

    As a practical matter the CEO of a 500 person corporation is trying to save jobs just like I am. I would understand the sba giving preference to larger small businesses. However, the sba's stated policy was first come, first served (once it reached their portal). The BANKS shuffled the applications, not the government.

    Thanks for Listening,

    John Hensley, Jr.
    Hensley Insurance Agency
    Chesterfield, VA

  • Karol johnson Larsen

    04/21/2020 06:31 PM

    I'd like to add to Judith's comment- President Trump said just the other day that $250 billion dollars went to over a million businesses. A million businesses? $250 BILLION? Just how big were these giant corporations? Because most SMALL businesses could've gotten by with way less and more businesses covered if it were truly for small businesses. In my opinion small business is like Judith's son-5 employees...not 500 like the loans went to.

  • Sharon Lundy

    04/21/2020 04:30 PM

    This sounds almost identical to what happened to our company application. Small town bank. Application in on April 3. Followed exactly what was outlined on instructions. When I called on April 10 I was informed that file had been set aside for additional information but we were never called. So on 10th I made sure they had everything they needed. Said they submitted but we were not funded. Money had run out. I blame bank but having heard other things as to who got money I’m sure larger companies than ours got the money.

  • Kaye Schneider

    04/21/2020 03:13 PM

    I lodge my complaint with this mom. Two daughters run small businesses and were locked out of the SBA loans. And this Forbes article seems to explain WHY... YES, I would blame TRUMP and Rubio if they knew and signed off on this. Did they have any actual SMALL business owners on the Economic team for discussion? CHAINS are not small. Mom and Pop shops are small. EGG SHOP NYC and BK are small...my daughter has put her life savings, energy and dreams into building this brand and was doing well. UNTIL the government shut her down. Now there is NO HELP in bringing her back to business! HSC and BRND House in Nashville, the Kettner Coffee shop were small businesses run by another daughter. NO money available as the story above, even though she applied day 1. I DO HOPE YOU really look into this. It is a travesty to small businesses.


  • Judith McCarthy

    04/21/2020 02:41 PM

    Dear Mike, thank you so much for responding to my comments regarding the irregularities in the processing/administration of the SBA/PPP loans.

    My son, Charles, is a voluminous researcher and had caught wind that banks might be "shuffling the deck" so that the big loans would rise to the top. I know that there are already class action lawsuits in California along those lines.

    I don't know under whose purview that falls, but, if that is the case, I would certainly hope that banks would be held accountable in some fashion. I know that businesses "triage" their responses to customer requests for service; it makes good business sense. But where are the ethics and where is the legality in doing so when the law explicitly says first-come, first served?

    I think that Charles' business shows the collateral damage of shutting down the economy. Is a hospital going to install a new metal barrier around a retention pond right now? Is an apartment complex going to follow through on getting its balconies repaired? Is a restaurant going to have stainless steel upgrades done in their kitchen at this time? Is a homeowner going to order up a fancy stair-railing? What do you do when you had a bad January, but confidently plan to make it up in February, March and April?

    Charles has not experienced a bad economy and has been building his business with hard work and youthful optimism.

    From the very minute the political drama started up about this virus, I have been saying that our leaders need to grow up and declare that we are not going to ruin our economy to save "our most vulnerable". I fall into "the most vulnerable" category.

    I use the D-Day analogy that Eisenhower knew that he would lose a lot of men that day, but that he had to make the call to save Western Civilization. I agree with Trump when he says that the cure can't be worse than the disease. I consider ruining our economy and smashing the dreams of our youth to be far worse that losing tens of thousands of 75+ year olds like me. (Yes, I had Charles at 45 years old and adopted a daughter two years later).

    I am doing my civic duty by staying home. And I am also social distancing to stay healthy for my daughter who lives across the country. But I would gladly join the army of the "expendable" if I could help save our Country.

    Thanks for listening.

    Judith McCarthy

  • Sharon Faulkner

    04/21/2020 02:36 PM

    This old woman is a DNC LIAR. Dr!congrats also wrote the bill and Trump wanted to get the cash out as fast as possible. Tell her propaganda doesn't work on people with brains. America supports Trump not rat bag Dem self servers like Pelosi. Shame on you Gov you know better.

  • Floyd A Unger

    04/21/2020 01:57 PM

    Thank you. As a retired banker I’m not surprised at the problem. The SBA is an organization that I used only once and vowed to never ever use again. For the one and only SBA loan I did an incredibly all encompassing loan agreement was required. Okay, I was fine with that. But then over the years of it’s term, the borrower violated almost, probably all, of the loan agreements. Actually that was good for my borrower and fine with me. Let’s face it. Between government workers who have nothing to lose or gain and bank loan officers who are more concerned about their hours than their customers I’m amazed that anything at all gets done.

  • Judith M Seckel

    04/21/2020 01:52 PM

    Congress did the same thing the last similar went out. Big business gobbled it up, Wells Fargo, Citi, and banks are not small business. Yet they got the money while the small businesses are closing their doors and this is after everyone of them have used every personal dollar to keep their business afloat. And now the stalling of the Democrats holding back to get the bill past because they want to line the pockets of bigger and non essential businesses. Shame on them

  • Sharon Maitlen

    04/21/2020 01:34 PM

    Small businesses left out of the relief: Self-employed person, who owns his own business (ie Chiropractor). SBA advised, although you are self-employed...you have no other employees...and you OWN your business, you are not entitled to receive EIDL. Well, the business still has to pay rent, electricity, etc. In this instance, with no, or much fewer, patients coming...business is struggling. In addition, requesting 3 month home mortgage suspension. Bank of America advised they would grant, but you must read the fine print. At the end of the 3 months, there is NO GUARANTEE, the bank won't call up the 3 months total suspended mortgage, to be paid all at once. Asked about tacking on to the end of mortgage term, as BoA website states... and the response was, you have to fill out a lot of paperwork that will then be reviewed by the "board" and a decision will be made as to whether or not you pay in full, or it gets added at the end. This is WRONG. Your thoughts?

  • Lisa Ford

    04/21/2020 01:29 PM

    I feel the same way. How is shutting down businesses helping? Yesterday, while waiting on the Paratransit lift at the local Walgreens, right next door to a construction site. The site was very busy with workers, while sitting infront of a Walgreens that has adjusted hours right now. I got thinking. I was glad to see folks working, but why can't everybody be working. I guess a construction site has to keep moving forward, because of penalties if not finished on time. That's well & good. But what about all the penalties we are strapping all the unemployed American workers with. Budgets getting messed up. All because of fear. Fear caused by China, the media & demoncrats. That's how I view them all. Not one good thing in them. Vicious, mean, greedy lying jerks. Individuals, it's small budgets vs. Businesses with huge budgets. I keep thinking about Payrick Henry. "Give me liberty or give me death!" We have lost a lot of liberties & I hate it. It's like the real Americans are being sufficated & the only way that we can breathe freely again is to fight & fight hard against the demoncrats. We can be soft about this anymore.

  • Linda Emmele

    04/21/2020 01:17 PM

    When I read Judith's letter, I felt as though I had written most of it myself. Our youngest son and his wife and brother-in-law have been building a business installing appliances, for several years. He applied for a PPP loan as soon as it was possible. Although he has had a few communications from his bank, he is still waiting to be approved. His workload has been reduced, and if that continues, his 8 employees will be out of a job. It seems to me that ALL small businesses should be treated the same--given the chance, some of these smaller companies could grow and eventually become major corporations. Thanks, Mike for doing what you do.

  • Anne Turner

    04/21/2020 01:03 PM

    Re the fabrication business: The DNC thinks the government running everything would be better. I have a bridge in Brooklyn I can sell you. There is too much lack of conscience and not enough shame for behavior going around.

    The Chinese do not have to declare war to inflict great harm on other countries. Since the communists have very little regard for individual suffering or death, this could be the start of a future war of germs. They could kill off half of their population and still have a huge country. The world needs to collectively, no pun intended, come down on China a way that will hurt their economy and cause rebellion by the people. Now China has seen what has happened it is no doubt in their recipe book.

  • Lori Lake

    04/21/2020 12:50 PM

    As a retired banker, my comment is to the writer rightly concerned about her son not getting any of the PPP money after making a exceptionally quick application. The government definition of a small business is not what normal people would expect. I believe it includes business with well over 100 employees these days. Someone with a real small business like your son should find a community bank where he will be a bigger fish in a small pond and not a minnow in the ocean. His bank likely took care of much larger customers before even giving his application a glance and then it was too late.

  • Lisa Neely

    04/21/2020 12:06 PM

    I think I wrote to you about this already but I am still wondering the answer to this question...?For reparations that the Chinese brought upon us, can we just say to them, “Thanks! You just erased our debt to you for all of the financial, social and physical hardships you caused that we have had to pay for” I know our economies are dangerously intertwined and that presents another problem. Thanks so much.

  • Dinah Monahan

    04/21/2020 12:06 PM

    My son now owns our third generation family business. We are the The largest pro-life distributor in the world and it started with my mothers precious feet pin. He had to Furlow all of his employees. They bank with the local Wells Fargo and they went there daily to know when to turn in the applications. Friday they were told they were not taking them. They thought they would wait till Monday and be there first thing. When they went Monday they were told that they had opened up the application process on Saturday and all the money was gone. My sons business received no notification of that. Likewise they applied through Chase and did not get any money but Ruth’s Chris steakhouse got 33 million. And so my son may have to fold his business. What a travesty this would be. They need to release this money and put a Of annual income so that the really smaller businesses can actually have a crack at it.