Democratic lawmakers: Trump is giving more relief money to red states

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They point to a study that shows a disparity in the number of small-business loans processed in red and blue states across the country.

A number of Democratic lawmakers are accusing the Trump administration of playing politics when determining what businesses receive coronavirus relief loans.

The lawmakers pointed to a Bloomberg News article that showed businesses in states Trump won in 2016 received loans to cover a far higher percentage of their payrolls than those in blue states.

"I'm hard pressed not to think that this is political," Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) tweeted Thursday night. "Blue states like California got a pathetic number of loans issued. Nebraska got nearly 75% of loans requested. I smell a rat with orange hair."

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Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-CA) also tweeted a link to the report, and said Trump needed to address the disparities quickly.

"The money is not getting through...unless you’re in a red state. ⁦@realDonaldTrump⁩ needs to put the money where the need is, now," Maloney claimed Friday morning.

Bloomberg News' report hinges on a study by the investment advisory firm Evercore, which looked at how loans were distributed from the first $248 billion of the Paycheck Protection Program.

The PPP was created by the $2 trillion coronavirus relief package Congress passed last month. It is intended to help small businesses cover their payrolls while their businesses are either shuttered or seeing steep losses tied to the coronavirus outbreak.

Congress put $349 billion in the PPP, meaning that $100 billion more has been allocated since Evercore conducted its study.

However, Evercore found that small businesses in Nebraska and North Dakota — states that voted for Trump in the 2016 presidential election — received funding to cover nearly three-quarters of their eligible payroll from the first tranche of PPP loans.

Meanwhile, Evercore said small businesses in New York, California, and the District of Columbia — states Trump lost in 2016 — have received loans that cover less than a quarter of their eligible payroll.

It's unclear whether there were other factors in play that led to the funding gap between states that Trump carried in the 2016 election versus those he did not.

Speier, for her part, has been speaking out about that disparity for days.

"Can someone explain to me how Texas has been approved for $1 billion more in SBA loans - & more than 30,000 loans!- than California despite our economy being $1 trillion larger & California being much harder hit by COVID-19?" Speier tweeted on April 15.

California Gov. Gavin Newsome also said at an April 15 news conference that his administration is "trying to understand exactly why" there's been such a difference in funding.

Trump has resisted the independent oversight Congress created when it passed the relief package, which was intended to study accusations of impropriety with how funds were allocated.

He already removed the watchdog put in place to oversee disbursement.

“President Trump is abusing the coronavirus pandemic to eliminate honest and independent public servants because they are willing to speak truth to power and because he is so clearly afraid of strong oversight,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer tweeted on April 7, after reports emerged that Trump fired the Inspector General overseeing the relief package.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.