The next two weeks will be challenging, U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, R-1, told a group of business owners during an April 6 online meeting organized by the Liberty County Chamber of Commerce.
“The next two weeks are probably going to be the most crucial times we’ll go through,” Carter said. “I would encourage all of you to encourage other people to follow the guidelines that the COVID taskforce has set.”
Carter said all Georgians should be following Gov. Brian Kemp’s shelter-in-place order and practicing social distancing, washing hands frequently and covering coughs.
“It doesn’t matter if you haven’t tested positive or not or even if you have a test or showing any of the symptoms, you know what to do,” he said. “We know the guidelines all of us should be doing our part.”
Carter also explained the three phases of the $2 trillion aid package recently passed by Congress and signed by Pres. Donald Trump.
Carter said the first package was to make sure the U.S. was getting COVID tests developed and getting vaccinations developed. The second package was to make sure those tests will be paid for so that patients wouldn’t be stuck with the bill. The second package also included language for sick leave and family leave.
Carter said the third package was the passage of the stimulus act.
“It is now going into effect,” he said. “On Friday we started opening up the applications for the Payroll Protection Program. That is a new program that has been created specifically for these times, for this pandemic that we are in right now. It will allow small businesses to borrow up to two and a half times their monthly payroll, or $10 million, whichever is least. A lot of that will be turned into a grant and be forgivable if the funds are used for the right reasons. 75 percent has to be used for payroll, the rest can be used for rent payments and those types of expenses.”
Carter used the word fluid and liquid to describe the packages, saying that the bills will keep businesses liquid and the economy fluid during these troubling times.
“This is not a bailout,” Carter added. “It’s not like in 2008 and 2009 where we had a bailout due to bad business decisions. This is nobody’s fault. This is necessary for our people right now and it is what we should be doing. I’m glad I voted for it.”
During the teleconference, Chamber Director Leah Poole said someone had a question about the 2020 Census.
Carter said it is vital everyone be counted.
“As you well know, the census data is crucial to us getting funded,” he said. “In the federal government most of the funding flows through the state. So, it’s important so that the state of Georgia gets its fair share but then the numbers count for what goes to communities. The numbers matter, especially with COVID 19.”
Another meeting attendee wanted to know how people who deferred their mortgage payment for three months would be able to pay if they are still unemployed.
Poole asked whether loan companies could add those mortgage costs to the end of the mortgage. Carter said residents should first talk to their mortgage companies.
“Fannie (Mae) and Freddie (Mac) have addressed this and they have made some changes and have already taken some actions to address this,” Carter said. “I would encourage you to get in touch with your mortgage company. Don’t just simply stop paying it, get in touch with your mortgage company first.”
Someone asked how they should report price gouging.
Carter said price gouging needs to be reported to Federal Trade Commission and state agencies. He said he has sponsored a bill to address price gouging.