Congress has tried in "good faith" to help people who are out of work because of closures caused by the coronavirus pandemic but furloughed and laid-off people need help through paychecks that would come through payroll processors until the emergency is over, Sen. Mark Warner said Thursday.
"We're seeing an economic tsunami," the Virginia Democrat said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe." "We've done a pretty good program for the airlines at one industry, and even with some of its flaws, the Paycheck Protection Program program for businesses 500 [employees] and under has been replenished. But there is a lot of folks not getting the money through PPP."
Warner said he doesn't wish to criticize what has happened so far, but it's time to add a paycheck support guarantee program and pay people money directly.
"Get rid of the middlemen in terms of the banks and have a much more support system," said Warner. "Take a percentage of people's salary and pay it through the payroll processors ... we need to go bigger, go direct and cut out bureaucracy and model it off of what seems to be working better in Europe. That may be the approach we should take."
The move would also allow people to keep their health insurance, as they wouldn't be severed from their employers, said Warner.
"One thing we'd put forward with our new initiative is a requirement that you have to demonstrate at least 20% revenue loss," he said of businesses using the program. "We need to do all we can to help those in need, but I think most Americans are rightfully angry when they read about public companies or companies doing fine getting, for example, this PPP money."
He applauded Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who he thinks has "been working his tail off" on financial matters that have resulted in the pandemic response.
Mnuchin was to clarify who should be eligible for government funds, said Warner, admitting there are "friends of mine" who have money management firms who got money.
"They're not hurting at all but he'll try to clarify there will be penalties if you have other access to capital and you're going for this emergency relief," said the senator.
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