Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett called on Congress to expand a bailout program for the pandemic-stricken small businesses, likening business closures across the country to an “ economic war. ”
“I think the country owes it to the millions of small business people,” Buffett said during an interview on CNBC. [Paycheck Protection Program] and take us to the end of the tunnel. “
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Congress established the $ 670 billion rescue fund earlier this year with the adoption of the CARES law in late March. Over the course of about four months, the program paid out approximately $ 525 billion in forgiven loans to 5.2 million businesses, saving an estimated 50 million jobs, according to the Small Business Administration.
The program was closed to new applicants in late July, although there is about $ 38 billion left in the fund. Lawmakers have been trying to negotiate a new round of emergency aid for months, to no avail.
A $ 748 billion bipartisan relief proposal backed by mainstream lawmakers would reopen the program and allocate about $ 300 billion in funding to it, although it’s unclear whether it will get enough votes to pass.
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“It would be foolish not to act on this and allow those people to go back to where they could do the kind of business they used to do,” Buffett said. “It’s an economic war.”
The Oracle of Omaha compared the closure of bars, restaurants, gyms, shopkeepers, salons and other businesses to World War II, when the US focused its factory production on items considered essential to the war, such as weapons and military equipment. He argued that the federal government “owes” it to the people to provide them with economic aid.
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“We went into World War II, a lot of industries shut down, and everything turned to defense production,” Buffett said. “Well, we have a lot of people trapped in this particular induced recession and others are thriving. I think the country owes it to the truly millions of small business people.”