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Anti-Vaxxers Got PPP Loans, but It’s Not a Scandal

Nurse practitioner Sarah Gonzalez prepares to give a dose of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine at a mass vaccination site at Brooklyn Army Terminal in New York City, January 10, 2021. (Andrew Kelly/Reuters)

From a Washington Post story by Elizabeth Dwoskin and Aaron Gregg:

Five prominent anti-vaccine organizations that have been known to spread misleading information about the coronavirus received more than $850,000 in loans from the federal Paycheck Protection Program, raising questions about why the government is giving money to groups actively opposing its agenda and seeking to undermine public health during a critical period.

These “questions” have several answers, none of which are mentioned in the Post. One is that the statute creating PPP did not condition organizations’ eligibility for loans on their viewpoint. Another is that conditioning eligibility on organizations’ viewpoints might have run afoul of an important provision of American law.

People, including people who really ought to know better, have responded to the Post story by suggesting that the Trump administration made a deliberate choice to aid anti-vaxx groups through the PPP. It didn’t, any more than it chose to help the NRA by giving many of its members Social Security, or to help the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence by giving grants to build roads its leaders use.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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