White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow on Sunday claimed that the administration never promised to disclose which businesses received more than $500 billion in coronavirus relief loans, contradicting an earlier statement by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
Kudlow, director of the U.S. National Economic Council, made his statement to Jake Tapper on CNN’s “State of the Union” about the Paycheck Protection Program, which Congress authorized in March to bail out companies harmed by the coronavirus pandemic.
When asked whether Americans deserve to know which wealthy companies have received taxpayer-funded bailouts, Kudlow said, “As far as naming each and every company, I don’t think that promise was ever made, and I don’t think it’s necessary.”
Mnuchin in March promised that the administration would “have full transparency on anything we do. We will be reporting to the public.” But on Wednesday, he told the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship that information is now considered “confidential.”
The administration of President Donald Trump has tried to walk back that promise for the last week.
Several Democratic legislators have sounded the alarm on the potential for corruption amid reports that several large companies — including some belonging to wealthy Trump campaign donors — received tens of millions of dollars in loans earmarked for small businesses.
The Trump administration’s lack of transparency undermines years of precedent established by similar loan programs. The Small Business Administration normally discloses the names of borrowers benefiting from the program on which the PPP is based, according to The Washington Post.
The Paycheck Protection Program has largely benefited companies with close ties to banks while neglecting businesses without those relationships. Ethnic minorities own a disproportionately high percentage of such businesses.
In May, Trump removed the inspector general responsible for overseeing the $2 trillion in coronavirus relief funds, including the PPP program.
Watch the excerpt from CNN’s “State of the Union.”