The real problem with PPP loans is not who gets them
“Trump administration bailed out leading anti-vaccine groups during pandemic,” newspaper headline Washington post. “Five major anti-vaccine organizations known to spread misleading information about the coronavirus have received over $ 850,000 in loans from the Federal Paycheck Protection Program, raising questions about why the government is giving money away to groups actively opposing his agenda and seeking to undermine public health at a critical time, ”the story begins.
This attempt to arouse outrage is wrong. The PPP program has been sold as a perspective neutral emergency measure to bolster the private sector payroll in the wake of the pandemic and its stay-at-home orders. By its very nature, a view-neutral program will help those with false beliefs. (I agree with the Post’s reporting team in rejecting the anti-vaccine views preached by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., founder of one of the groups involved.) The First Amendment even demands that the government observes the neutrality of points of view in many programs.
There are plenty of good reasons to criticize the PPP program – see here, here, and here, for example. (Not to mention here, related, on CARES Act loans.) Emergency aid to labor markets might have been delayed – though the delay isn’t really the biggest issue here – if lenders had been forced to filter more carefully the recipients for bad thoughts.
The next shock horror in the Post could be: “The government has given hundreds of millions of dollars to deeply lost groups and individuals through flood insurance, social security, emergency relief. disaster, unemployment benefits, energy credits and fire suppression in buildings. Please, friends – in an open and liberal society, we don’t want the state to apply ideological tests to every program!
This article first appearance at the Caton Institute.