Mismanagement of Small Business Aid from 9/11 Causes Problems for Business Owner and GOP Presidential Candidate 15 Years Later
Opinion: September 11th, 2001 is a day that will live forever in the hearts of all Americans. I remember watching the news as they replayed the planes crashing into the Twin Towers. Several years later, in 2012, I had the chance to visit the 9/11 Memorial at Ground Zero. It was an experience like no other. I, being young at the time of the catastrophe, never gave much thought to the businesses that might have been affected. I thought more about the lives lost. In an effort to help small business get back on their feet the government spent billions of dollars in loans and grant money to help with recovery efforts. An article first published by the East Bay Times in 2005 had found that the money “was so loosely managed that it gave low-interest loans to companies that didn’t need terrorism relief — or even know they were getting it.” The 9/11 terror attacks caused fear and panic to spread through the country and it affected every person, and to an extent, every business. People from every walk of life were affected, even people and businesses that were nowhere near Ground Zero. The mismanagement of aid allowed for a heavy criticism of the program’s effectiveness, and fairness.
Problems of public perception of the misuse of funds started to rise when banks started to loan money that came from the 9/11 programs to businesses that were far removed from the devastation. Examples are “a South Dakota country radio station, a Virgin Islands perfume shop, a Utah dog boutique and more than 100 Dunkin’ Donuts and Subway sandwich shops.” Many of the loan recipients had no idea that their loans came from the program. Although this is just one instance of the public perception of financial misuse. Another instance of misuse is that businesses were given approval for loans and or grants when their small businesses were not even affected by the terror attacks. Government official Hector Barreto quoted in the East Bay Times stated that “we started seeing business [in need] in areas where you wouldn’t think of — tourism, crop dusting, trade, and transportation.” This is what is known as the domino effect. The hopes of these types of loans and grants were to stimulate economic growth, which they did.
A rough estimate suggests that nearly 14,000 businesses were affected. However, the amount of money that was allotted for the program, $481 million was exceeded by $49 million. Then right before the December deadline, there was a resurgence of new applications, which would require 80 million more dollars of tax-payer money. The mismanagement of the September 11 Small Business aid left many business owners and constituents confused. According to the New York Times, “businesses and nonprofit groups with fewer than 500 employees, located from 14th Street to the Battery, are eligible for compensation for economic losses from the terrorist attack.” Donald Trump is such a recipient of federal aid money. Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, a Democrat, provided a letter to the New York Times expressing his disgust with the GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump, in the letter Nadler accuses Trump of taking money that was designated to help small business owners. Money which he, Trump, applied to and according to the government he qualified for it, so he received it. Yes, Trump’s company had a revenue of $26 million, but according to the United States’ Small Business Administration in 2001 there are two size standards, the first size standard is that companies have a maximum of 500 employees and the second standard is that they have a revenue of up to $6 million dollars. Donald Trump’s company clearly meets the first size standard. A company did not have to meet both size standards in order to qualify.
Representative Nadler is wrong in attacking Trump. As Nadler is overlooking the fact that Trump’s company did, in fact, qualify for the money. Donald Trump, as Nadler painted, did not take the money which he clearly qualified for, and use it as a way of exploiting the small businesses that were actually hurting. The attack on Trump is not only an effort by the Democrats to make voting-age constituents less likely to vote for Trump in the upcoming November election by painting him as an unsympathetic thief of taxpayer money, but it is also an attack on the wealthy. In response to Representative Nadler, Trump states that he “‘allowed people to stay in the building, use the building and store things in the building,’” and that he “‘was happy to do it and to this day [he is] still being thanked.’”
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