Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The U.S. Treasury Department is leaning against releasing the names of small businesses that received Paycheck Protection Program loans, as first reported by Politico and confirmed by Axios.

Why it matters: Taxpayers bailed out millions of small businesses with hundreds of billions of dollars. But they may never know where the money went ⁠— a lack of transparency that could make it harder to know how well the program worked, or if certain applications were fraudulent.

Context: PPP was structured under the SBA's Section 7(a) loan program. Historically, business recipients of Section 7(a) loans have had their names and loan amounts publicly disclosed on an annual basis.

What we're hearing: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is concerned that disclosing business names and loan amounts could put recipients at a competitive disadvantage, because PPP loans were calculated by payroll.

  • For example, one business could possibly discern how much another company pays its employees, via the PPP loan disclosure.

What we're thinking: Mnuchin's concern is valid, but only to a limited point.

  • A competitor would need to know how many employees a business has, in order to calculate average compensation. And, if a competitor knows the number of employees, it probably has pretty good insight into compensation.
  • PPP calculations were based on backward-looking payroll, has no information on job titles, and doesn't include any salary dollars in excess of $100,000 (i.e., someone making $200k was counted as making $100k).

The bottom line: Congress wants this information for oversight, and there’s nothing in the CARES Act legislation that promises confidentiality to loan applicants or recipients. Given that Mnuchin is publicly talking about a new round of stimulus, it’s hard to imagine that the two sides won’t reach some sort of compromise soon.

Go deeper: How many big companies got PPP loans

Go deeper

Breaking down the PPP disclosure debacle

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The U.S. Treasury Department Monday morning released the names of over 660,000 small businesses that received Paycheck Protection Program loans of at least $150,000, per its recent compromise with Congress. Well, at least that's what we thought Treasury did.

What happened: Within hours, several well-known companies and investment firms on the list denied that they had ever applied for PPP loans, let alone received them.

Treasury blames lenders for PPP disclosure debacle

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The U.S. Treasury Department is pointing the finger at lenders for errors discovered in Monday's PPP data disclosure.

What they're saying: "Companies listed had their PPP applications entered into SBA’s Electronic Transmission (ETran) system by an approved PPP lender. If a lender did not cancel the loan in the ETran system, the loan is listed," a senior administration official said.

Jul 7, 2020 - Health

Hospitals, doctors are major recipients of PPP loans

Physicians' offices applied for PPP loans to help offset patient volumes that stopped. Photo: John Moore/Getty Images

Small hospitals, physician clinics, surgery centers, dental offices and other health care businesses were among the most common recipients of loans under the Paycheck Protection Program, according to data released by the federal government on Monday.

The big picture: Medical facilities had to halt routine procedures in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic as a way to prevent spread of infection and keep hospital beds open. PPP loans saved some, but certainly not all, of the jobs that are dependent on those routine procedures.