Bill Maher vs. S.E. Cupp: "Disincentives To Work Are Not Always A Bad Thing"

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BILL MAHER: Let me ask about this other issue that was in the news this week, which I think is a good thing, the decoupling of Obamacare, or healthcare, from employment. But, it was reported in the press differently. Now, what happened was the CBO -- that's the Congressional budget office -- they are the arbiters, they are the umpires. We say they are impartial. I've quoted them many times, and say, 'look, they are the impartial ones.'

Okay, what they said was Obamacare, over 10 years, will reduce employment by 2 million people. Okay, somehow in the media that got to be Obamacare will kill jobs. But I don't think that's what's happening. What it means is that because people now, of course, can decouple, and by the way, we should never have coupled employment with healthcare in the first place. We did that during World War II because they throw salaries, so it was a way of giving a worker a benefit.

Okay, now, you know, because they passed that thing which Republicans agree with too, we should not -- if you have a pre-existing condition, you have to cover that. So now people don't have to stay in their job to get covered. So these are people choosing to leave the workforce because they finally can. Isn't that a good thing?

ALICIA MENENDEZ: Yeah, I mean, it creates opportunity -- it basically is a game of musical chairs where we have the same number of chairs but less people competing to sit in those chairs. So it creates opportunity, and as you said, free people up. So that means: you want to go hang out with your grandkids? You can do that. You want to start a business? You can do that because you're no longer dependent on your job for your healthcare.

MAHER: Yeah disincentives to work are not always a bad thing. Americans work too much. Americans are over-worked, overstressed. They take less vacation time. They don't retire when they want to. Not everything is GDP.

S.E. CUPP: No. Um, no. Disincentivizing work, up until two days, was agreed by Democrats and Republicans to be not a great thing. The project of economics on the left and the right has always been to come up with welfare programs that disincentivize work the least. Why? Work is dignity. Work is social and economic empowerment. Work is women's lib. Work is opportunity. So this false argument that somehow disincentivizing 2 million people to work and leave the economy is now a good thing is bull. It's absolute spin.

MAHER: You're work is all that. When I worked at Arthur Treacher's Fish & Chips throwing fish pieces into a vat of boiling oil it was not dignity.

CUPP: Wasn't that more dignity than no work at all?

MAHER: No. No. I wish I could have gone to college without having to take that shitty job.

CUPP: I wish everyone had the luxury of saying no to a shitty job, when in fact, a lot of people -- five million -- have decided to stop looking because there aren't shitty jobs to get.

MAHER: But Social Security is a disincentive to work.

MENENDEZ: Pell grants are a disincentive to work. I mean, you take basically any program and you say that because you're giving another opportunity now I don't need to fish fry. (HBO's Real Time, February 7, 2014)

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