Forty-two percent of Oregon's small business payrolls were covered by the federal Paycheck Protection Program last week.
The $350 billion program was designed by Congress to give companies with up to 500 employees the equivalent of two-and-half months of payroll in forgivable loans.
Oregon's yield from the program—42 percent of eligible payrolls covered—was the third-lowest figure in the country, according to calculations by Ernie Tedeschi, an analyst at the New York investment banking firm Evercore ISI. Those findings were first published by Bloomberg News.
Tedeschi's numbers show an imbalance: The top three states—Nebraska, North Dakota and Kansas—got an average of 79.4 percent of their small business payrolls covered. All are red states. The bottom three, Oregon, New York and California, which got an average of 40 percent, vote blue.
The PPP program came out of Congress, where Democrats control the House and Republicans run the Senate. But the program is administered by the federal Small Business Administration, which is part of President Donald Trump's administration and run by Jovita Carranza, a Trump appointee. (Trump's first appointee to the SBA post was Linda McMahon, wife of World Wrestling Entertainment boss Vince McMahon.)
Both U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden and U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) questioned the PPP allocation.
"When COVID-19 has forced small businesses throughout Oregon into a daily battle to make payroll, it's imperative that relief Congress passed to help gets distributed fairly without any partisan thumb on the scale," Wyden said in a statement. "I won't stop pressing the Trump administration to answer basic questions about how Paycheck Protection Program funds were distributed because Oregonians employed by those small businesses need those paychecks to pay the rent, buy groceries and more."
"Trump's blatant corruption and self-dealing is always shocking but never surprising," Blumenauer added. "From putting his name on stimulus checks to funneling taxpayer money to his base, he has politicized this crisis at every turn. Time will show he is the most corrupt president in history. I'm going to do everything in my power to make sure he's a one-term nightmare."