President Donald Trump’s top economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, has revealed that his wife has had an easy time applying through the small business loan program to help keep her art business afloat amid the coronavirus crisis, despite others reporting big problems.
“My wife Judy… she is a self-employed artist-painter, very distinguished one, some renowned, she could use some help for her operation,” Kudlow said during an interview with POLITICO last week.
Kudlow, whose personal assets are valued at a maximum net worth of $2 million according to a 2018 Bloomberg report, touted how simple it was for his wife to take out a loan for her business under the Small Business Administration loan program.
‘She went to a local, community bank up by our place in Connecticut and apparently it’s just a one-page form, that’s all it is. It couldn’t be easier,’ Kudlow said.
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While there is no indication Kudlow’s wife got special treatment, other small business owners have complained in recent days that the process hasn’t been that simple.
“Larry Kudlow’s wife is a small business owner and private citizen. Any speculation that there is something improper or nefarious taking place with her application is just false and more media spin,” White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere said in a statement.
The Paycheck Protection Program, created under the $2 trillion stimulus package Congress approved last month, offers small business owners federally-backed loans that will be forgiven if the money is used to keep employees on payroll.
But the program, initially funded at $367 billion, hasn’t worked as planned. Small business owners reported quick rejections from banks if they didn’t already have an existing relationship. And banks, for their part, were unprepared for the massive onslaught of small businesses seeking loans.
In an interview with Fox Business on Friday, Kudlow said more than 660,000 loans have been approved for a total of $168 billion, meaning nearly half the money in the program has already been obligated.
He warned the money in the program was forecast to run out on April 17.
“Those are enormous numbers,” Kudlow said. “That’s why we would like the Congress to help us with an additional $250 billion.”
Congress is actively seeking to add additional funds to the small business loan program, but Republicans and Democrats in the House and the Senate remain at a stalemate.
Late last week, Senate Republicans attempted to pass $250 billion in additional funds for the struggling program, but their efforts were blocked by Democrats who wanted to secure $500 billion in the legislation that would go towards not only small businesses, but also to local and state governments and hospitals.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy released a joint statement Saturday morning saying they would not agree to Democrats’ demands.
“Republicans reject Democrats’ reckless threat to continue blocking job-saving funding unless we renegotiate unrelated programs which are not in similar peril,” the joint statement said. “This will not be Congress’s last word on COVID-19, but this crucial program needs funding now. American workers cannot be used as political hostages.”
McConnell and McCarthy claimed in their statement that the program “burned through roughly half of its initial funding in the first week.”
The $2 trillion stimulus package prohibits lawmakers, Cabinet officials, and President Trump’s family from benefiting from loans or investments from the Treasury Department.
It’s unclear how Mrs. Kudlow plans to use the funds granted to her business through the program and if she has any employees. ABC News has reached out to the White House for comment.
The Paycheck Protection Program does allow business owners to take out a loan if they are sole proprietors.
According to her website, Judith Kudlow “divides her time between New York City – where she received her art training – Washington D.C. and Redding, CT.” Her painting method, according to her biography, is “based on precise drawing, careful modeling to produce the three-dimensional illusion, harmonious and accurate colors and values, and compositions based on time-honored rules.”
She charges between $10,000 and $20,000 for commissioned paintings, according to her website.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect that while Larry Kudlow’s has applied for a loan through the program, it’s unclear whether she has been approved for a loan or received any funds.