HBO’s Bill Maher pressed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on federal spending on the coronavirus pandemic, with the “Real Time” host saying a “house of cards” will eventually collapse, resulting in a depression.
The back-and-forth comes as President Trump signed off on a $484 billion package on Friday to replenish a small-business lending program prompted by the pandemic. The package also provides $100 billion for hospitals and COVID-19 testing as some states slowly reopen their economies.
“I know we can bail out certain sectors as we have done in the past. I don’t know how you can keep indefinitely writing checks,” Maher said to Pelosi in a remote interview. “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?
“I’m worried about the whole thing collapsing and we go into a depression,” he later added.
“Because it’s a matter of life and death,” Pelosi replied. “This is more an investment in the lives and the livelihood of the American people.
“We have to think big about that,” she continued. “The more we invest in science and health, the quicker our economy will recover from the pandemic. We expect a return on this money. … That’s stimulus.”
“Well, it will recover unless people get wise to the fact that we’re just writing checks with money that doesn’t exist,” Maher retorted. “I mean, what is the point of bailing out banks that 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 reiterated that she expected a return on the loans being given, defining them as a stimulus.
Pelosi has been making the rounds on the late-night show circuit this month, joining Stephen Colbert’s “Late Show” and James Corden’s “Late Late Show” on CBS in addition to Maher on Friday night.
Maher conducted the program again from his Los Angeles-based backyard, which included a socially distant visit from neighbor Jay Leno, the former NBC “Tonight Show” host.