Coronavirus

Todd: Democrats Risk Public Blame for Delaying Small Business Relief

NBC News anchor Chuck Todd said Democratic leaders could take blame for holding up billions of dollars in coronavirus relief just hours before a small business loan program ran out of cash.

"The side that looks like they're holding up money, I think, is bad politics," Todd told radio host Hugh Hewitt, in remarks flagged by HotAir.

The $350 billion Paycheck Protection Program dried up Thursday after Senate Democrats, led by Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.), blocked an additional $250 billion requested by the White House. The program, part of the $2 trillion CARES Act, offers forgivable loans to businesses with fewer than 500 employees affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Republicans would not agree to Democratic demands to match the money with funding for state and local governments and hospitals.

Todd said Democrats were "genuine" in defending governors calling for further assistance, but had miscalculated the political damage of their position.

"I think that small business money issue is something that's more front and center with the public than the issue of reimbursing the states," he said. "And so I think that on a perception marker here, sort of your short-term politics, I think the Republicans have the upper hand."

Schumer and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) have insisted on tying additional measures to the cash infusion, calling this week for Republicans to negotiate. The move has spurred dissent among rank-and-file Democrats. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.) tweeted Thursday the Senate should approve the $250 billion in additional PPP funding by unanimous consent, a position shared by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.). Todd said Democratic officials have been short-sighted throughout the past week.

"This is one of those cases it feels like somebody isn't thinking slightly more long term here," he said.

Small businesses have already been devastated by the coronavirus, and 4 in 10 have temporarily closed because of the pandemic. A four-month shutdown could lead to the permanent closure of up to half of all businesses, a new survey found.