White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow told CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday that the Trump administration never promised to release the names of businesses that received forgivable Paycheck Protection Program loans as a part of the CARES Act.
Why it matters: U.S. taxpayers have provided hundreds of millions of tax dollars to bail out small businesses impacted by economic disruption set off by the coronavirus pandemic, but they may never know where exactly the money went and how well the program worked, Axios' Dan Primack reports.
Between the lines: Historically, business recipients of the Small Business Administration's Section 7(a) loans, which PPP was structured under, have had their names and loan amounts publicly disclosed on an annual basis.
- The PPP loan application also warns borrowers that their company names, loan amounts, and other information are public records “that will be automatically released," according to TIME. And in April, the SBA told news organizations that it intended to post "individual loan data" after the loan process had been completed.
- But Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin told a Senate hearing last week that he's concerned the data would include "proprietary information," and the SBA has dropped its pledges of “loan specific” transparency.
The big picture: As part of calls for oversight of the bailout funds, Mnuchin said in April that the Small Business Administration will do a "full review" of any loan that exceeds $2 million after it became known that large corporations and organizations had received PPP loans.
- In April, the House of Representatives created a select committee to oversee the how the Trump administration used trillions of dollars in coronavirus relief allocated by Congress.
- The Council of the Inspectors General also established a Pandemic Response Accountability Committee to oversee the rollout of the $2 trillion CARES Act, but President Trump removed the original inspector general that the committee chose as its leader.
What they're saying: "In terms of those [companies] that shouldn't have qualified, a lot of them have returned the money," Kudlow said. "But I think when Treasury Secretary Mnuchin talk about transparency, he talked about the transparency of the process of making the evaluation for the loan and then the distribution."
- "As far as naming each and every company, I don't think that promise was ever made, and I don't think it's necessary. I think what is necessary is to make sure that the legalities were observed, that the process of credit and leading was observed and that people that can qualify will in fact get it."