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Business owner obtains payroll loan to keep paying 35 employees — they respond with a 'firestorm of hatred'

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Republicans warned this might be an unintended consequence of the program

Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

The experience of a small business owner in Washington state is highlighting the unintended consequences of the massive coronavirus relief bill passed to keep employees receiving a paycheck.

Jamie Black-Lewis told CNBC that she was able to obtain loans for $177,000 and $43,800, and thought that her 35 spa employees would be happy that they weren't losing their jobs.

Instead, she was met with a "firestorm of hatred."

Black-Lewis said that the employees, many of which were paid hourly, were angry because they were preparing to obtain more money through unemployment than they would by staying employed.

"It's a windfall they see coming. In their mind, I took it away," she explained.

"I couldn't believe it," she added. "On what planet am I competing with unemployment?"

'We cannot create an incentive not to work'

The bizarre happenstance was predicted by many lawmakers, but they passed the bill despite some misgivings because they believed that the relief needed to go out as quickly as possible.

Florida Republican Sen. Rick Scott warned that giving people more money than they receive in unemployment might incentivize some to not work.

"We have a virus and we know people can't work for a variety of reasons," Rick Scott said according to the Miami Herald. "We got to help them but at the moment we go back to work, we cannot create an incentive not to work. We cannot be paying people more money on unemployment than they get paid in their job."

The law was passed with the provision despite some conservatives' misgivings.

Black-Lewis was disappointed by the entire episode.

"There's a bad taste from it," she told CNBC. "We'll recover. But it's just a bummer."

Here's more about the PPP loans:

Small business owners share struggle with receiving PPP loans | USA TODAY www.youtube.com

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