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WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) had a conversation with Mike Allen Wednesday about the Paycheck Protection Program and the role government should play to help small businesses as part of an Axios event on small business recovery amidst coronavirus.

Excerpts from the senator’s conversation are below and video from the event can be found here.

“I’m really concerned about smaller businesses at the lower end of the economic spectrum — people who never took out a loan, they didn’t have a relationship with the bank, they were the last people in line to get PPP loans, their capital has been wiped out. They may already be out of business, and so I think we really need to be taking a look at some program or programs or some method to potentially restore capital to viable businesses that can reopen. But those same businesses are going to have to have some kind of game plan to mothball themselves to, you know, minimize their spend so that once the market actually allows them to open up they’ll be able to.”

“PPP on average probably provided a grant of around $11,000 per employee. So if we’re going to provide these grants, you know, restore capital, what I will say in exchange for the grant, a business that wants to reopen would then establish a new ownership structure, something like an employee stock ownership plan. I actually worked at one … and it’s a great form of ownership. Every employee participates. They participate in the earnings of the company, generally set up as a retirement type of plan. It’s a really good ownership structure for a capitalist society. I think it would also help alleviate the inequality gap as well, so that’s the type of innovative thinking I hope my colleagues will embrace as we move forward in pretty uncertain times.”

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