If you’re Joe Biden and you’re going to argue President Donald Trump hasn’t helped small businesses, and you’re going to do this in a campaign advertisement that highlights the owner of a small business, it helps if your people choose a small business that didn’t receive help from the federal government headed by Donald Trump.
If you have to pick someone who got assistance from a program signed into law by the president, it also helps to pick an individual who kept this information private. If conservatives discovered this information a month or two down the line, long after the message conveyed by the advertisement was absorbed into the body politic, the effect of the discovery is near zero. If you can find the information out via a quick Google search, well, that’s problematic.
I think this would go without saying, but apparently this reminder wasn’t relayed to the crack team currently being employed by the former vice president. His new ad features the owner of an eyewear shop in Philadelphia who got a forgivable Paycheck Protection Program loan.
Not only that, she gave an interview about it to BillyPenn, a Philadelphia-area news outlet, thus leaving a short trail of breadcrumbs for anyone willing to put in five minutes to discover it for themselves.
This is the advertisement, released by the Biden campaign on Wednesday:
“Small businesses are the backbone of communities across our nation, and we need to do so much more to help them,” read the copy on Joe Biden’s official Twitter account. “Donald Trump may have forgotten about them — but I never will.”
In the ad, owner Tiffany Easley — who wears a mask in what looks like an empty shop, showily proving an empty point — talks about her business woes at NV My Eyewear in Philadelphia.
“I always wanted to build something from the ground up. I saved, put in the hours, and put off vacations,” Easley says in the video.
“I opened NV My Eyewear three and a half years ago, and just as we were adding locations and employees, this pandemic brought everything to a halt. I had to permanently close one location and furlough my employees, and it’s my staff. They’re my family. It’s just heartbreaking.
“But what’s worse is that this president seemed to make everything else worse. Donald Trump and his administration left the American people behind,” she continued.
“The people that he is supposed to protect and serve. Small businesses, they need a partner in the White House, and that’s why I’m with Joe. I know he’ll help small businesses like mine get back on our feet. I spent my life building this business from the ground up. I want a president that’s going to build this country back better than before.”
The advantage of the video is that, save from the anecdotal evidence and information already known to every viewer, the ad is entirely fact-free. It doesn’t mention what Trump could have done better or how Biden will do so. Simply put, the ad’s fuzzy argument goes, Biden’s better, vote him.
Thus, the fact that the ad never mentions that Easley benefited a good deal from a bill signed by Trump doesn’t necessarily make it false, just wildly misleading:
In an April interview with BillyPenn, Easley said she’d “lost at least 95% of my revenue for March, and I guess it’s gonna be the same thing for April.”
However, she was able to stay in business thanks to the PPP, one of President Trump’s signature COVID-19 relief packages.
“The reason she’s able to be optimistic about the future? For one, Easley is a woman of faith, she said. Also, she was able to score emergency financial relief from two different sources,” BillyPenn reported.
“NV My Eyewear is one of the businesses that got a payout from the first phase of the federal Paycheck Protection Program. Easley was awarded a loan of $27,000, which will be forgiven if she uses it to rehire staff, as she’s planning to do.”
The other aid came in the form of a $5,000 grant from a Philadelphia COVID-19 relief fund.
According to the Washington Free Beacon, the Trump campaign has called the ad “dishonest.” The Biden campaign and Easley didn’t respond to requests for comment, the Free Beacon reported.
One muffed ad doesn’t a spoilt message make, although the case of NV My Eyewear speaks to a larger issue in Biden’s messaging that presented itself when, in the early days of response to the novel coronavirus, he was asked what he would have done differently from the president.
The suite of changes he originally presented were materially identical to what Trump had done. Oh, but he’d have gone further. How? Don’t ask for details, because that’s not Biden’s forte. That this isn’t remembered more acidly is proof of the kinds of the passes a mediocre establishment Democrat will receive both from his own party and the media.
Biden’s small business proposals, such as they are, are likely to get the same kid-gloves treatment.
What’s his messaging here — that he wasn’t president when the coronavirus hit? That he would have given out more money in PPP money? He would have spent more money than the trillions that had already been spent?
The ad makes none of that clear.
Biden has called for student loan forgiveness, according to Forbes, and a stimulus package “a hell of a lot bigger” than the $2 trillion in the CARES Act, according to Politico.
These would have to be paid for, at least in part, through tax increases.
Those words aren’t featured in the ad, and for good reason: If you want one weird trick to get voters to recoil from Biden just as COVID-19 lockdowns have led to record unemployment, it’s telling them they need to pay more taxes.
Another weird trick to get investors spooked: Tell them that the American people will have less money to spend as we attempt the greatest economic turnaround in history.
Interestingly, Easley has appeared in one other interview recently. In a June 15 Philadelphia Inquirer story, she talked about the looting and rioting going on in a business corridor that served the black community in Philadelphia. Easley told the newspaper residents in the neighborhood discouraged rioters from destroying NV My Eyewear as they had with so many other small businesses on historic 52nd Street in the City of Brotherly Love.
“I probably would have been devastated if my business was one of the properties,” she said. “I thank God that people remember me.”
If only there were a political party that believed in standing up against the rioters instead of saying that it was just property damage and it was time to defund our police.
If only there were a president who wanted to restore law and order so business owners like Easley’s wouldn’t have to worry about savage mobs destroying their livelihood.
I wonder if anyone’s going to tell her.
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