Small Business Owner Touts Trump-Backed PPP Loan During Biden Visit

Visit undercuts Biden claim that loan program failed to help small businesses

President Joe Biden speaks with W.S. Jenks & Son co-owner Mike Siegel (Photo by Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)
March 11, 2021

At an event designed to showcase President Joe Biden's small business agenda, a store owner credited the Republican-backed Paycheck Protection Program passed during the Trump administration for helping save his business.

Mike Siegel, the co-owner of a Washington, D.C., hardware store, told Biden during his Tuesday visit that the PPP allowed his business to pay at-risk employees while they stayed home from work during the coronavirus pandemic. "The first thing that we did was we took all of our at-risk employees and we sent them home, and we paid them through that entire process," Siegel told Biden. "That first wave of PPP loans was very helpful to allow us to do that."

The first wave of PPP loans was sent out in April 2020 under President Donald Trump, not Biden, who criticized the PPP loans during the campaign. Biden argued that the money went to big corporations rather than to American small businesses like Siegel's.

While the goal of Biden's visit was to tout the exclusive two-week window he established for small businesses to apply for new aid, Siegel's business might not have survived to apply for the loan without the support it received last year. The store, W.S. Jenks & Son, received a $162,800 loan last April and put all the money toward payroll.

Prior to becoming president, Biden minimized the PPP's ability to help small businesses, claiming that there are "tens of thousands of them going out of business [b]ecause the money didn't get to small businesses."

Now, Republicans are saying that Biden is taking credit for their work. House Small Business Committee ranking member Blaine Luetkemeyer (R., Mo.) told the Washington Free Beacon that Democrats were quick to criticize the business relief efforts during the campaign, but that its success is undeniable.

"Many Democrats, including then-candidate Biden, were quick to criticize these efforts, but we must recognize the PPP's success from early on and continue to uplift our nation's hardworking men and women," Luetkemeyer said. "As small businesses were forced to shut their doors nearly one year ago, the Trump administration worked with Congress to provide struggling small businesses with much-needed relief through PPP."

Despite Biden's belief that the PPP rarely aided small businesses, his campaign repeatedly featured PPP-aided companies from around the country. W.S. Jenks & Son is the latest business saved by the Republican-backed program and featured by Biden.

At the event's conclusion, the gathered press corps attempted to ask Biden questions but were rebuffed by Biden's handlers. Biden has yet to hold a single solo press conference since taking office.