The federal payments to individual taxpayers and families are starting to appear in bank accounts, and not a moment too soon. We hope that when it comes to the checks that will be mailed to those who lack direct deposit, the administration’s promises of quick delivery will prove closer to the truth than the fears of some in Congress that they will take months to arrive. People desperately need the money.
The closure of nonessential businesses in New York State is now in its fourth week, and it’s been brutal. So too has the hoarding of certain products that has left many shelves bare, and the disruption of supply chains around the country and the world that may keep some empty for a while.
But many businesses remain open, and they need your support in order to stay that way. We hope a decent share of the federal stimulus money sent to taxpayers here can be spent at our mom-and-pop shops in particular — whether the grocery store, the bodega, the hardware store or the car repair shop. They’re all struggling as much as anyone, and they don’t want to lay off their workers any more than the workers want to be laid off.
That’s where another new federal initiative comes in: the Paycheck Protection Program. Designed to keep businesses large and small afloat and workers on the job, it was funded to the tune of $349 billion, in the form of loans that may be forgiven, as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, which President Trump signed March 27. The money was nearly gone by Wednesday afternoon.
Republicans, led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, wanted to add $250 billion to the program immediately, but Democrats blocked the move, saying any increase should be tied to new funding for hospitals and state and local governments, as well as food assistance. The GOP says those things should be tackled separately, with McConnell saying of the proposed increase, “I am literally talking about deleting the number 350 and writing 600 in its place.”
The Republicans are right on this one. Businesses need more funding for the loan program immediately, and if McConnell had had his way, it could have been done several days ago. Aid for those who need help getting food, for hospitals and for state and local governments is also vital, but it can be handled just as quickly in a separate bill.
And we here at the Queens Chronicle need businesses to get that funding so that we too can continue to play the role we have in Queens for nearly 42 years now. Advertising is our source of revenue. Without it, we could not provide our readers with the news: the unique, hyperlocal news you can count on only in a Queens paper, especially now. As our friend Judy Patrick, vice president for editorial development at the New York Press Association, said in a new essay:
“Through stories of sickness and of death, of brave healthcare workers and struggling small business owners, local journalists are documenting their communities. In hard-hit New York City, dozens of local newspapers are chronicling the challenges neighborhood by neighborhood. ... Local newspapers care — always have and always will. It’s what sets them apart from all other media, even Facebook. They will be at the zoning board meeting you care about, at your Fourth of July parade and your high school graduation. They will write about the kindergarten class trip to the pumpkin farm as well as the school budget, food banks for the hungry as well as which takeout joint has the best burgers.”
We eagerly look forward to the day we can run items on zoning issues and class trips again. Today the virus eclipses everything. But it won’t forever. And with the support we need, public and private, small businesses including this one will be there with you for whatever new normal emerges.