With Texas beginning Phase One to open for business, what will the next phase of recovery look like?
The Fort Worth Chamber hosted U.S. Senator Ted Cruz on Friday, May 15 for its virtual learning series known as Leaders Online. Sen. Cruz provided federal updates on economic recovery and discussed what lies ahead for Texans and Texas businesses.
Senator Cruz focused on the three simultaneous crises Texas is currently facing:
- Public health crisis
- Economic crisis
- Energy crisis (oil and gas)
COVID-19 has claimed 30,000 lives nationwide and 1,200 in Texas. Each state is taking extraordinary steps to protect human life. Economically, over 36 million Americans have lost their jobs in 60 days and several million small businesses are on the verge of bankruptcy. The final crisis, unique to Texas, is the energy crisis, pertaining to oil and gas. With oil currently marked at -$40 a barrel, many high-paying jobs in Texas are affected. Sen. Cruz encouraged viewers that we will defeat all three crises, but doing so will be an enormous challenge.
Sen. Cruz spoke on finding the balance between protecting individuals and the reality of reopening the economy. He expressed that Texas needs to do both, while exercising common sense. It’s easy to embrace an extreme position on either side, but neither polarized view is right. He added that Texas must be proactive to fight this disease, but at the same time acknowledged that this economic catastrophe will have a real cost in terms of human lives and enact a public health crisis of its own with increased cases of of mental illness, depression, and suicide. The objective is to save and preserve lives, and to balance and value lives on both sides of the ledger.
Sen. Cruz cited that Texas’ rates of infection have been much lower in comparison to other states, and that it makes sense to gradually allow businesses to reopen with precautions. He also acknowledged that Texans are frustrated and ready to get back to work, but we need to do it in a way that keeps people safe.
He mentioned that the arts are a vital part of our economy and our community. People are seeing creativity in how to preserve art through other tools and through more technology. He sees a combination of personal and private philanthropies and local communities as the key to allowing the arts to continue to thrive.
To Sen. Cruz, the answer is not for Washington to be “shoveling borrowed cash.” The real solution is not to keep the economy frozen, but to get it moving again.
There are predictions about a second round of COVID-19 cases in the fall. When asked about whether the federal government is prepared, Sen. Cruz expressed that he certainly hopes so, but that no one has never seen this pandemic before. If a second round is the case, the federal, state, and local governments are leaning in to aggressively stockpile PPE, ventilators, and test kits, but that ultimately, people should be aware that no matter the preparation, there will be no magic wand until there is a vaccine or cure.
To update on the CARES Act and the Paycheck Protection Program, he noted that the Treasury is revising rules going forward, and that while the PPP loan was a novel program to get through this crisis, it was not designed to be a stimulus. Instead, it is supposed to serve as relief, as a short-term loan to get small businesses and individuals through this crisis, and is designed to keep as many employees as possible in their jobs and to keep them connected.
Additionally, Sen. Cruz said that Texas has the highest rate of participation in the PPP program, and that Congress envisioned this being for real small businesses. To address the controversy of bigger companies receiving funds, he advised larger corporations to not take the money if they do not need it, and to use common sense.
To close, Sen. Cruz expressed his thanks for the incredible work that people and business owners are doing and the difference they are making in the community. It always makes a difference, especially now.
“We are going to make it through this. Texans and Americans are strong and resilient,” said Sen. Cruz. “We’ve made it through two World Wars, the Great Depression, 9/11, and other pandemics before. We will make it through this as well by coming together, standing united, and standing strong.”
Leaders Online, an alternative to in-person programming, was created to assist Fort Worth Chamber members with obstacles related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Leaders Online features industry experts via virtual livestreams to answer questions and guide local employers in situations they’re likely not familiar with, associated with COVID-19. For a complete list of upcoming virtual events, click here.