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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Over 70% of the federal government's $349 billion small business bailout program is already spoken for, as Democrats and Republicans continue to squabble over an expansion that both sides believe is necessary.

The state of play: There is still a lot we don't know about how the existing program is operating, and possibly won't until the next pot of money is emptied.

The big question: Will there be a public database of PPP loans, which could help provide insights on efficacy and checks on fraud?

  • The Small Business Administration does typically disclose granular data for the category of loans under which PPP falls — including the number of jobs supported.
  • But the databases are static spreadsheets, not dynamic or easily searchable, and only updated annually. If that method is continued, we wouldn't learn about PPP recipients until early 2021.
  • Axios repeatedly asked SBA officials if a PPP-specific database will be forthcoming (and when), but didn't receive a direct answer.

Plus, it also could be helpful to know details of denied applications, as well as lender-approved ones that later lose SBA guarantees. Such sunlight could discourage bad actors who divert lender attention away from legitimate applicants, not to mention expose flaws whereby applicants are unfairly denied.

  • For example, there is widespread talk of venture capital and private equity fund managers applying for PPP loans, even though management fee cashflows should not have been negatively impacted by the coronavirus.

We also don't know how much money is actually out the door.

  • The SBA this morning disclosed that over 1 million applications have been approved, totaling over $247 billion from more than 4,600 lenders.
  • Crickets when it comes to how much of that $247 billion is actually in small business bank accounts, thus helping to forestall layoffs and missed financial obligations like paying utility bills. Lenders have 10 calendar days to fund from the date of loan approval, but it's unclear if things are moving faster or slower (let alone how specific lenders are performing).

The bottom line: The speed of this massive program, from conception to execution, has been lightning quick. Data disclosure, however, isn't keeping pace.

Go deeper: America's small business bailout is off to a bad start

Go deeper

Mike Allen, author of AM
2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden's "overwhelming force" doctrine

President-elect Biden arrives to introduce his science team in Wilmington yesterday. Photo: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

President-elect Biden has ordered up a shock-and-awe campaign for his first days in office to signal, as dramatically as possible, the radical shift coming to America and global affairs, his advisers tell us. 

The plan, Part 1 ... Biden, as detailed in a "First Ten Days" memo from incoming chief of staff Ron Klain, plans to unleash executive orders, federal powers and speeches to shift to a stark, national plan for "100 million shots" in three months.

Off the Rails

Episode 2: Barbarians at the Oval

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. This Axios series takes you inside the collapse of a president.

Episode 2: Trump stops buying what his professional staff are telling him, and increasingly turns to radical voices telling him what he wants to hear. Read episode 1.

President Trump plunked down in an armchair in the White House residence, still dressed from his golf game — navy fleece, black pants, white MAGA cap. It was Saturday, Nov. 7. The networks had just called the election for Joe Biden.

Fringe right plots new attacks out of sight

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Domestic extremists are using obscure and private corners of the internet to plot new attacks ahead of Inauguration Day. Their plans are also hidden in plain sight, buried in podcasts and online video platforms.

Why it matters: Because law enforcement was caught flat-footed during last week's Capitol siege, researchers and intelligence agencies are paying more attention to online threats that could turn into real-world violence.

You’ve caught up. Now what?

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