The first round of coronavirus aid to small businesses was a boon to rural states that backed President Donald Trump but haven’t been hit as hard by the pandemic as Democratic strongholds on the coasts, contributing to rising political tensions over a multi-trillion-dollar relief effort.
The skewed distribution doesn’t necessarily point to regional or political bias in the Paycheck Protection Program’s administration or design, which is first-come, first-served. In many cases, smaller lenders who have close relationships with small-town business owners played an outsized role in issuing loans by moving quickly to tap the program.
Yet the disparity adds to a litany of complaints about the Small Business Administration program, which is already on a second round of funding, and to the partisan rancor as Congress begins considering still more pandemic relief.
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