Stacey Abrams: Feds Should Be Giving People Cash Payments So They Don't Have to Hurry Back to Work

By Susan Jones | April 21, 2020 | 10:05am EDT
 Former Georgia State Rep. Stacey Abrams (Photo by Earl Gibson III/Getty Images)
Former Georgia State Rep. Stacey Abrams (Photo by Earl Gibson III/Getty Images)

(CNSNews.com) - Stacey Abrams, a Democrat who lost the Georgia gubernatorial election to Republican Brian Kemp, on Tuesday opposed his announcement that some businesses may start reopening on Friday.

"The worry is that while trying to push a false opening of the economy, we risk putting more lives in danger, and there's nothing about this that makes sense," Abrams told MSNBC's "Morning Joe."

Abrams said instead of returning to work so soon, "every small business owner should be able to look to the federal government for the Paycheck Protection Act. And instead of these large corporations receiving millions of dollars, those dollars need to be directed to the small businesses."

Democrats are holding up additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Plan because they want more money for other things.

Abrams said people should not put their lives at risk so they can keep their jobs:

As a small business owner myself, I understand the instinct not only to preserve your family's economy but to protect those who work for you. And the responsibility of a business owner is to first protect your workers.

That cannot happen when you have a nail salon where there's no possible way for that technician to be distant from their customer; when you are running a restaurant that requires face-to-face service.

The reality is, every small business owner should be able to look to the federal government for the Paycheck Protection Act. And instead of these large corporations receiving millions of dollars, those dollars need to be directed to those small businesses.

We should not be putting people's lives at risk because of the antiquated systems of financial delivery that we're facing. That's one of the reasons Project 100 is so important to me, because it's about delivering cash payments to those workers who are on the front lines who still, even though being employed, still receive S.N.A.P. benefits because they're not making enough to make ends meet.

This project is designed to provide that direct cash assistance and that's what the federal government should be doing through the next Covid package, and that should be the solution, not putting people's lives at risk so that folks can keep their jobs.

Abrams said the goal of Project 100 is "to ensure that those communities that are not getting their stimulus payments because they either did not file taxes, because they made too little money, or because they're not banked, which happens with our lowest income workers, that they get access to direct cash payments they need. 

"As we wait for the stimulus moneys to reach these communities in Detroit, in Milwaukee, in Albany, I'm part of this because I know that those direct cash payments can save lives today. Families don't have to choose between food on the table and paying their rent and staying inside their houses. And so we're so excited about the fact we'll serve 100,000 families in the next 100 days."

Gov.  Kemp announced on Monday that hospitals may now resume elective surgeries. He also said he will allow "gyms, fitness centers, bowling alleys, body art studios, barbers, cosmetologists, hair designers, nail care artists, estheticians, their respective schools, and massage therapists to reopen their doors this Friday, April 24, 2020," as long as they abide by "specific restrictions," including social distancing, screening workers for signs of illness, and boosting workplace sanitation, among others.

Kemp said theaters, private social clubs, and restaurant dine-in services will be allowed to reopen on Monday, April 27, but those, too, will have to obey certain restrictions.

Abrams told MSNBC, "The mayors of Atlanta, Albany and Savannah have all questioned the wisdom of doing this, and the fact is the governor didn't consult with mayors before making this decision."

On a different topic, Abrams said she has not had conversations with Biden or his team about being Biden's running mate.

"I look forward to hearing from vice president about his selection process, and all I can say is, if asked to serve, I'd be honored, but my responsibility is to ensure that today we're doing the work we need to prepare for this election and for the next year."

She said "absolutely," she would be an excellent V.P. choice: "This is a question of competency, of skills and of understanding the intricate nature of our federal, state and local governments. I do have those experiences."

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