(CNSNews.com) - Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is urging small business owners who have to send their employees home while the nation deals with the coronavirus to get a loan from the Small Business Administration to cover the costs of employees.
During an interview on Fox News’ “Your World with Neil Cavuto” on Wednesday, Graham also praised a proposal by Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) to increase unemployment insurance to three-quarters of people’s salary.
Graham pointed out that the maximum benefit for unemployment insurance in South Carolina per week is $326.”
“That's not enough. So there's bipartisan support to have the federal government to put more money into the unemployment insurance system/ What I'm talking about is three quarters of your salary, up to $80,000 as a general idea. There seems to be a lot of Republican and Democratic support for that. Marco Rubio and Susan Collins have a great idea,” the senator said.
“If you're a bar owner or business owner and you’ve had to shut down, go to the small business administration and get a loan to pay your employees up to $80,000 per employee, and we’ll forgive that loan for the first six weeks, to keep the paychecks coming. Between those two ideas we are trying to stabilize people's income,” he said.
“I've been on the hill all day. I haven't seen this kind of spirit since 9/11. Everybody's looking at each other as an ally, not a foe. People in America, you begin to see the best of the country,” Graham said.
“It's going to take that kind of spirit to defeat this, but here's the problem: 80% of the workforce is going to be impacted by the containment policy. The money we're spending to deal with health care is going to pale in comparison with the money we spend to stabilize the economy,” the senator said.
“If you've been laid off today in South Carolina from a bar or restaurant or hotel, I'm looking to make sure that we have wage replacement, that we replace your income as much as possible so that you don't have your life turned upside down. That's number one goal of phase three for me,” he said.
Graham said he wants to “stimulate the economy, but it's impossible to stimulate it when it's locked down.”
“If I gave you your paycheck, that wouldn’t be enough to get you through until we can find a way to fully deal with the virus. Your paycheck plus $1,000 doesn't do you any good. Instead of getting a government check, I want you to have your paycheck as much as possible,” he said.
Graham said that you can’t stimulate the economy. You’re paying for the cost of containing the coronavirus. He explained what three things need to happen in order to know the U.S. has turned the corner on the virus.
“You can't stimulate it. We’re buying containment. Everything I've just talked to you about is the price of containment. Shutting every bar and restaurant down in South Carolina is the cost of containment. We either pay now as a country or we pay later, and what we do until we turn the corner and what would turning the corner look like? A week where you have less infections than the week prior, therapies are in place and reduce the mortality rate,” he said.
Graham predicted that the unemployment rate is more than 20 percent. He said that people are not unemployed. They’re furloughed.
“I think the unemployment rate in this country is far more than 20%. I think we’ve locked the whole economy down. People are not unemployed. They’ve been furloughed because of a medical condition. Nobody’s lost their job because of bad economic policy. People are out of work to contain the virus,” he said.
Graham had a message for spring breakers in Florida who ignored the CDC’s warning not to gather in large groups.
“You're doing the country a great disservice. You’re putting your parents and grandparents at risk. We need the spirit of World War II where everybody was in it to win it. The war on terror, one percent of the country’s been fighting radical Islam, and the war against the coronavirus, all of us are key players. All of us are soldiers in the fight,” he said.