This content is being provided for free as a public service to our readers during the coronavirus outbreak. Please support local journalism by subscribing to your local newspaper.

Just three years into the Trump era, America was enjoying the greatest economy of our lifetime. Unemployment was at an all-time low and wages were at an all-time high.

Fostered by Republican’s historic lowering of taxes and rolling back regulations, consumer optimism was contagious and the economy was humming. Then, the coronavirus hit and the bottom dropped out.

Businesses were forced to close or dramatically limit services. Agriculture and oil markets plummeted. Millions were forced to file for unemployment and overnight our economy faced a horrific crisis, the likes of which is unseen in history.

Small businesses have always have been the backbone of our economy. Small business employees represent half of the total US employment.

Back in my community college days at Butler County, my buddy and I formed our first business: A house-painting venture. We were working full-time for the summer at the refinery enjoying $6/hour — a wage quite good at the time.

That summer, a hailstorm ripped through El Dorado and folks in town approached us to paint their houses. My buddy was great at detail work around windows and trim, and I was decent with a roller.

Within weeks, we were making more money painting houses at night and weekends than we did at the refinery.

Years later, I went on to run a private medical practice and a few other small businesses; signing paychecks every other week for 25 years, for as few as five employees, but eventually more than 300 employees.

I learned I needed to be the first one to work and the last to leave. I learned that the owner doesn’t always get a paycheck. However, I’m proud our employees and workers never missed a payday, even in harsh economic times.

This situation is no different — we simply have a moral obligation to protect small businesses and their workers.

U.S. Rep. Roger Marshall represents the Kansas 1st District and is running for the U.S. Senate.