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In a Stunning Move, Trump Admin Refuses to Disclose Corporate Recipients of $500 Billion in Coronavirus Bailout Funds

Progressives and advocacy groups are voicing shock and outrage over the Trump administration’s refusal to reveal the names of a whopping 4.5 million businesses that have collectively received more than $4.5 billion in corporate bailout money, thanks to a federal program created in March to provide companies with relief from the coronavirus pandemic, according to Common Dreams. [1]

More than $2 trillion was allocated via the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which was signed by President Donald Trump. That established the Paycheck Protection Program which provided $349 billion in funding for forgivable loans.

But it took only 13 days for that initial capital to run out, [2] leading lawmakers to approve another $310 billion more, with about $130 billion of that remaining [3] as of Tuesday.

The Small Business Administration “typically discloses names of borrowers from the loan program” that the PPP is based on, but that won’t be the case this time around, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship Wednesday. He added he won’t be following the model that was established for the COVID-19 program, despite worries [4] over which companies are benefitting from this.

Here’s where the worrisome part comes in: Mnuchin essentially told the committee that information will remain confidential.

“We believe that that’s proprietary information, and in many cases for sole proprietors and small businesses, it is confidential information.”

Those comments didn’t sit particularly well with many, especially individuals and groups who have already expressed concerns regarding the PPP. And, quite understandably, they made their discontent known.

Bartlett Naylor, Public Citizen’s financial policy advocate made his feelings known in an interview with Common Dreams.

“Making sure trillions in aid goes to workers, not profiteers, begins with knowing where the aid goes,” Naylor said in reference to the federal government’s COVID-19 bailout endeavors. “Zero transparency is red carpet for hucksters, schemers, and battlefield scavengers.”

Public Citizen took to Twitter Thursday, blasting him for refusing to reveal businesses receiving PPP aid as “unconscionable, jaw-dropping corruption.”

Indeed, it appears this is about as corrupt as things get. Small businesses are struggling as the pandemic continues, so it’s understandable that they should receive funds, but some massive hedgefund giants are also stepping in, pretending to be small businesses, Bloomberg [10] reports.

So it’s no wonder that Public Citizen and such notable progressives like Zephyr Teachout, a professor of law at Fordham University, and Naomi Klein, author of The Shock Doctrine [11] are voicing outrage.

And Klein is not wrong. Right smack in the middle of a pandemic that’s financially crippling families and small businesses, the modern-day Robber Barons are looting with masks on — all the way to the bank.