Fox News complains that federal coronavirus relief bill incentivizes employers to pay workers

In late March, Congress approved a $350 billion small business loan package as part of a larger $2 trillion relief package designed to address the economic impacts of coronavirus. Some on Fox News have taken issue with a provision of the relief package that incentivizes small business owners to pay their employees during the public health crisis.

The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) created through the bill was designed to incentivize small businesses to retain employees instead of laying them off. The loans were initially intended to go toward companies that have fewer than 500 employees, and the program includes a provision that offers loan forgiveness if 75% of the PPP loan goes toward the payroll.

This provision largely angered owners of large franchises, many of who were ultimately allowed to apply for PPP loans through last-minute exceptions that were added to the bill. The provision has also bothered some at Fox News, who argue that it is unreasonable for Congress to incentivize business to pay employees during this time. 

  • On her Fox Business show, anchor Maria Bartiromo complained that the PPP provision “doesn’t make any sense to me” because the loan goes “right out the window to its employees, who are at home.” 

  • On America’s Newsroom, Bartiromo complained that there are restaurant owners who feel that the PPP loans aren’t going to “do anything for me once things open again because I have no revenue. Yes, maybe I save those people from being out of a job because I gave my employees the money, but for the viability of my business, that's questionable.”

  • On Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade asked Fox Business host Charles Payne about the “75/25” regulation. Payne said that he “reached out to the administration” to discuss the provision, but “they are saying they are not going to change that.” 

  • Fox & Friends hosted the owner of a Crunch gym franchise, who complained that the bill isn’t suitable for health clubs. Kilmeade told him that Congress “can't tell you how to run your business, you have to tell them what it takes to run your business.” Kilmeade also claimed that “unemployment is so attractive now, a lot of [employees] don't want their jobs back.”

  • On Fox & Friends, Kilmeade told Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia that “these restaurant owners can't live with 75% [of the loan] going to labor” because “many of these people don’t want their part-time jobs back.” 

  • Kilmeade also made this argument on the April 9 edition of Fox & Friends, saying that if the goal is to help small businesses, “don't make them take 75% of that grant money and put it towards employees, many of which don't want those jobs back because they're better off on unemployment.”