The field of Republican Senate candidates is crowded and elbows are sharp. Candidates lash out at each other for not being Trump enough, for being part of the “establishment,” or for being willing to compromise. But their favorite punching bag, unsurprisingly, is the Biden administration.
With inflation at record highs and the price of consumer goods like food and gasoline soaring, it’s not hard for Republicans to make a familiar economic argument: government “handouts” backed by Democrats are flooding the market with money, and that glut of cash is growing. prices for ordinary Americans.
“We need to get our spending under control, and you can see the fact that our spending is out of control in the inflation we’re seeing right now,” Mike Gibbons said at a recent campaign event in Bellefontaine. “It’s plain and simple. The definition of inflation is too many dollars chasing too few goods. Well, that’s what we have.
But when funding became available during the pandemic, Gibbons’ investment bank didn’t hesitate. Brown, Gibbons, Lang & Co. received a Paycheck Protection Program loan in April 2020 for just north of $1.5 million, according to data compiled by Project on Government Oversight, or POGO. This funding helped support a total of 72 employees.
Speaking to Hilliard on Wednesday at the opening of a new campaign office, Gibbons defended the decision, arguing that the PPP did not cause inflation.
“I have no problem with that. If everybody gets it, we’ll get it too,” Gibbons said. “You know, I wasn’t particularly active in trying to get it, but I have partners who said, you know, we should line up like everyone else and get whatever PPP loan we can. because we don’t know what the future will bring.
Every candidate in the Republican field has criticized government spending during the Biden administration and drawn direct links to its impact on broader economic trends like inflation or gas prices, but none have directly criticized the PPP. Yet this program, created as part of the CARES Act enacted under the Trump administration, is one of the most recognizable examples of widespread, potentially unconditional government assistance in recent memory.
According to data from the Pandemic Oversight Accountability Committee, direct payments to individuals — pandemic relief checks – totaled $803 billion. The Three Federal Unemployment Improvementsanother workhorse for the GOP, cost a combined $653 billion. PPP between them, repaying $794 billion in loans, of which $664 billion was forgiven.
As for how Gibbons distinguishes PPP spending from policies that led to inflation, he argues that inflation might have been transitory as the pandemic waned, but spending on measures like the bipartisan infrastructure package has fueled the rise in prices.
And Gibbons wasn’t the only one asking for help.
POGO data shows Sen. Matt Dolan’s law firm received nearly $616,000 to support a staff of 33.expenses out of control.”
It takes a much more pragmatic view of infrastructure law, for example arguing in a Press release that it would “create jobs in our state, strengthen economic growth, boost regional competitiveness, and improve public safety for every Ohioan.”
Former state treasurer Josh Mandel also has an indirect connection to PPP financing. Payday loan company Schar Financial Services received just over $122,000 to support its eight employees. On his financial disclosure, Mandel poses as an adviser to the company, earning $68,000.
WESTLAKE, OH – Melissa here cruising First Watch working so hard and spreading positive vibes. America’s backbone.
Meanwhile, Biden is using taxpayer money from Melissa to pay people to stay home, eat cheetahs and play Call of Duty. pic.twitter.com/tAlGkTQL23
— Josh Mandel (@JoshMandelOhio) January 25, 2022
Mandel’s criticism of the Biden administration has been endless and ongoing. In January, he posted a photo with a cafe waitress mocking the president for improved unemployment benefits.
“Biden is using taxpayer money from Melissa to pay people to stay home, eat Cheetos and play Call of Duty,” Mandel said.
Those benefits expired nationwide more than four months prior, and Gov. Mike DeWine pulled out of the program even sooner, cutting off additional benefits for Ohioans nearly six months earlier. In other tweets, Mandel linked the president to empty store shelvesmore expensive super bowl nights and even the supply of Chicken-fil-A sauces.
Ohio Capital Journal has reached out to the Dolan and Mandel campaigns for comment. Neither offered an answer.
But arguably the biggest beneficiary of federal largesse is no longer in the running. Despite the cut of advertisements criticize the documents of “Team Woke” and arguing that Biden was “paying people to sit at home and watch Netflix,” Bernie Moreno took out over $800,000 in PPP loans to prop up a car dealership in Florida. Additionally, the former contestant borrowed $5.3 million under the low-interest Main Street Business Loan program.
(UPDATE) After publication, Moreno reached out to challenge this story. Like Gibbons, he argues that spending under the CARES Act, including PPPs, did not drive inflation, but follow-on relief measures did.
Moreno also argued that he was limited in his use of the PPP program, noting that although he accepted money for a car dealership, he did not apply for funding to support his tech business because they were able to continue working without serious disruption.
The former contestant also waived reference to his use of a high street business loan – it was not ‘largesse’ as it had to be repaid with interest. True, but the program was established with the Treasury acting as a safety net to encourage banks to lend to more businesses. Meanwhile, terms and conditions were favorable for borrowers – rates were relatively low with interest payments deferred for one year and principal payments for two.
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