Reversing an earlier commitment to release information on aid provided to small business owners, the Trump administration said Wednesday that it will not disclose the names or dollar amounts of loans made through the $660 billion Paycheck Protection Program.
Appearing before the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he believes the data is “proprietary information, and in many cases for sole proprietors and small businesses, it is confidential information.” Releasing the data could harm participants, Mnuchin said.
Critics worry that the lack of transparency could make it harder to identify fraud and abuse within the massive program, which approved loans rapidly and with less vetting and oversight than usual.
“Clearly, this is meant to prevent some entities from being embarrassed, or being revealed,” Steve Ellis of the advocacy group Taxpayers for Common Sense told The Washington Post. “Nobody forced them to take the money, and it was already set up so that they could return it with no questions asked. And they were told that this information would be made public when they applied for the loan.”