The Corner

Politics & Policy

State Aid and the Lockdowns

One response I’m getting to my column saying the federal government should give some aid to state governments (as much as possible in the form of loans) is that the states decided to lock down and should pay the price for it.

Remember, though, that the collapse in economic activity preceded government lockdown policies. The pandemic itself, in other words, has had serious economic costs. (Voluntary adoption of social distancing cuts both ways with respect to the argument about lockdown policies: It means that some of what appear to be the costs of the policies weren’t, but it also means some of what appear to be their public-health benefits weren’t.) State governments would be in trouble even if they hadn’t imposed lockdowns, as federal officials, sometimes including Trump, encouraged them to do.

And to the extent aid is structured as a loan, governments that pursued better policies, whatever those will turn out to have been, will still come out ahead in the long run.

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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