Bill Maher, host of ‘Real Time’ on HBO, interviewed Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi about the amount of money Congress has appropriated for coronavirus relief. On Friday’s broadcast of the show, Maher said if we continue to write checks for money that doesn’t exist it could wind up hurting more people than the virus. Pelosi said she viewed the record-breaking spending bills as “an investment” and a stimulus to the economy. Pelosi likened the spending to the food stamp program, calling that an investment and stimulus.
BILL MAHER, HOST: Okay, you mentioned that this is fourth bill you’ve passed. I think the total now is coming up on $2.7 trillion. That’s a lot of money, you know, in a very short period of time. I know Congress controls the purse strings. I can’t imagine there’s much left in the purse. I just don’t get it. I don’t understand how – I know we can bailout certain sectors, as we have done in the past. I don’t know how you can just keep indefinitely writing checks. We were $20 trillion in the hole to begin with. And all world governments, who are already in debt, are doing this. How can the whole world be writing this funny money? SPEAKER NANCY PELOSI: Well, because it’s a matter of life and death. Nobody made as big of a fuss as we did when they passed the nearly $2 trillion tax break for the wealthiest people in our country, 83 percent of the benefits going to the top one percent and a debt that they laid on our kids to pay for in the future. So, this is more of an investment in the lives and the livelihood of the American people, and we have to think big about that. The more we invest in science and health, the quicker our economy will recover from the pandemic. MAHER: Well, it will recover unless people get wise to the fact we’re just writing checks for money that doesn’t exist. I mean – what is the point of bailing out banks who are just going to loan back the money that doesn’t exist to us again? It seems like it’s a house of cards that could, in the end, wind up hurting more people than the disease. PELOSI: Well, the point is to keep people working. It is paycheck protection. And so, the point of these bills – this legislation for the – they call it Paycheck Protection Program – is that the small businesses would be able to have some relief. And if they kept their workers on, then they would have debt forgiveness. And that is a very important part of it. We were concerned when they asked for more money right away. We said, ‘Wait a minute. We want to make sure – we want to see the data.’ Data that we have seen anecdotally, not scientifically yet. It’s telling us that many low – shall we say – underbanked communities are not getting any of this money. Whether it was women, minority owned businesses, Native Americans, veterans, rural communities, et cetera, were not getting these loans, because they just didn’t have banking relationships that were putting them higher up in the line – further up in the line. And so, it is probably – well, it is an investment. It is stimulus to the economy, hopefully when that comes. It is not anything in comparison to the irresponsibility of a tax cut – almost $2 trillion when you count the interest on the debt – that all of the deficit hawks, fiscal conservatives didn’t even give one ounce of thought to. The fact is, we expect a return on this money. When we invest in food stamps, that’s stimulus. When we invest in Unemployment Insurance, that’s stimulus. When we give a direct payment, that’s stimulus. And hopefully, when we keep these people in their jobs – and that was the point of small business – but also, the assistance to the aerospace industry, the airline industry, like that, the point is they keep the people in their jobs. And therefore, they have paychecks, and therefore, they can – people can survive. It’s a tough time, because their lives are threatened, as well as their livelihood. As well as our democracy, I might add though. We’re going to add the money in there for elections, for direct voting