2020 Election

Biden Trots Out Small Business Owner Who Got Thousands in Gov’t Assistance to Argue Trump Isn’t Helping Small Business

Presidential Candidate Joe Biden Delivers Remarks In Delaware
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A new campaign video from Joe Biden features a small business owner who says the Trump administration did nothing to help her during the coronavirus pandemic. Unmentioned is that she received thousands through the administration's Paycheck Protection Program.

Tiffany Easley, who owns NV My Eyewear in Philadelphia, received a forgivable $27,000 loan during the first phase of the program in April, she disclosed to local news outlet BillyPenn. She disclosed the same to Biden during a June 11 roundtable he held in Philadelphia, telling him her major concern was creating safe conditions for her furloughed staff to come back into the store.

But the disclosure is missing from the video testimonial Easley provided for the Biden campaign, in which she says the administration made "everything worse."

"I had to permanently close one location and furlough my employees," Easley says in the video. "But what's worse, is that this president seemed to make everything else worse. Donald Trump and his administration left the American people behind, the people he is supposed to protect and serve. Small businesses—they need a partner in the White House, and that's why I’m with Joe."

Neither the Biden campaign nor Easley responded to a request for comment.

The new ad comes as the Biden campaign works to capitalize on the economic downturn brought by the coronavirus, which took away one of Trump's biggest reelection talking points. New economic data released Thursday showed a sharp decline in unemployment and the addition of 4.8 million new jobs—indicating that the economy is rebounding faster than experts predicted.

The Trump campaign called the new Biden video a "dishonest" attempt to "undermine confidence" in the ongoing economic recovery, which it says was fueled by the success of PPP.

"The first round of President Trump's incredibly successful Paycheck Protection Program processed more than 14 years’ worth of loans in less than 14 days," said Ali Pardo, the campaign's deputy communications director. "Thanks to this fast surge of support for small business owners like Tiffany, tens of millions of workers continued to receive paychecks. The fact is, President Trump is restoring the historically strong economy he built before and there’s nothing Joe Biden can do to stop it."

Alfredo Ortiz, president of the Job Creators Network, told the Washington Free Beacon the video should be taken down by the Biden campaign for "false advertising."

"It ignores the success of the PPP, which has helped roughly five million small business owners, including the one featured in the ad itself," Ortiz said. "The fact that the Biden campaign couldn't even find a small business owner who hadn't received PPP funds demonstrates the incompetence of the Biden brand, and just how expansive President Trump's relief efforts have been."

Administered through the federal government's Small Business Administration, PPP gave small businesses loans that were forgivable if the money was used to pay staff. When Easley received the PPP loan, in addition to smaller grants from local relief funds, she said she was optimistic about her business.

"I was surprised, because if you listen to the news, they were so quick to say all the money was gone," Easley said in April. "I have a good feeling, I think we'll be ok. I just think it's gonna take some time to get there."

Adam Michel, a senior policy analyst for the Heritage Foundation, pushed back against the claim that the government left businesses behind during the pandemic.

"The federal coronavirus response has been nothing short of extraordinary," Michel said in an email.

"More than 70 percent of small businesses have received financial support from the PPP loans and have benefited from various other provisions, like delayed tax filing deadlines, two-year delay in employer payroll tax payments, and expansions of tax loss rules," Michel said, adding that support for such policies has been bipartisan.

Though there were disagreements over specifics of the PPP program, it was approved by Congress in nearly unanimous votes. Biden has worked to downplay the impact of the program, claiming that funds didn’t end up in the hands of small business owners like Easley. Fact checkers have rated his claims false.

Ortiz took issue with the claim Biden would be a "partner" for small businesses if elected, pointing to his promise to repeal tax cuts passed during Trump's first term.

"Far from being a ‘partner' in the White House, Joe Biden would be a major opponent for small businesses," said Ortiz. "Biden has called for repealing President Trump's tax cuts, which helped generate the strongest small business economy in recent history before the pandemic hit."

Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, argued that none of Biden’s proposals would help small businesses.

"There is nothing that Biden has proposed or endorsed that would give a small business more opportunities to succeed, keep more of their income, or more freedom to operate," Norquist said.

Michel explained that Biden's proposed changes to the tax code would in fact hurt Easley's own small business.

"The 2017 tax cuts were a boon for all Americans, including small businesses. Most small businesses pay their taxes as individuals and thus received a tax cut because tax rates were lowered across the board," Michel said. "There was also a new 20 percent pass-through business deduction that benefits most small and medium-sized businesses."

"To the extent Biden wants to repeal these features of the tax cuts, he will hurt small businesses like NV My Eyewear," Michel said.