Billionaire Warren Buffet, the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, said today that U.S. small businesses have been the “collateral damage” of the COVID-19 pandemic and added his voice to the growing chorus of groups calling for Congress to renew the Paycheck Protection Program.
Speaking on CNBC this morning, Buffet said he hopes Congress provides new stimulus soon, and extends “on a large scale” the popular Paycheck Protection Program, which was established earlier this year to provide loans to the nation’s smaller employers. The window to apply for PPP loans expired in August.
“It’s an economic war,” Buffett told CNBC’s Becky Quick on “Squawk Box,” speaking alongside Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon about helping small businesses. Small businesses have become “collateral damage in a war that our country needed to fight,” Buffett said.
Specifically, Buffett urged lawmakers to extend the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), a U.S. Small Business Administration program involving 5,620 lenders that provided 5.2 million low-interest loans worth $525 billion to American businesses to help keep their workers employed during COVID-19.
“I think the country owes it to the millions of small-business people … just renew the PPP and get us to the end of the tunnel,” Buffett said. “When we went into World War II, a lot of industries were shut down; everything went to the defense production. Well, we’ve shut down a lot of people in this particular induced recession and others are prospering.”
Many small businesses, especially restaurants and entertainment venues, have struggled to stay afloat during the pandemic because of social distancing and operating restrictions mandated by states.
The New Jersey Business Coalition, which includes NJBIA and 100 business and nonprofit groups, wrote a recent letter to New Jersey’s congressional delegation asking for their support of bills providing additional COVID-19 assistance, including help for businesses that have exhausted their PPP loans, and loan forgiveness for businesses that borrowed less than $150,000 and spent it properly.