University of Maryland economics professor Peter Morici used to be a fairly regular guest on MSNBC, appearing with Ed Schultz and others to discuss issues such as trade. Lately, he has been showing up on right wing media, such as when he paid a visit to “Fox and Friends” on June 4, to help host Brian Kilmeade continue Fox’s war on the poor.
Morici starts the conversation by actually making a backhanded argument that wages are too low. He says that it doesn’t pay someone to take a job at $10 an hour because they would start to lose welfare benefits. This is a version of the “welfare pays better than work” theory that was advanced by the CATO institute a couple of years ago, but has been questioned by a number of people who have pointed out that there are flaws in CATO’s calculations. One of those flaws is that these young men, who Morici is talking about, would get benefits at a lower level than a woman with children, which is who the CATO calculations are based upon. Welfare benefits such as food stamps paid out to a single man would be far less than what that man would earn at a $10 an hour job.
Kilmeade then puts up some numbers concerning Obamacare, apparently criticizing it because it is doing exactly what it is supposed to do, help people purchase health insurance. He mentions the numbers who are receiving “free and subsidized healthcare.” But it’s not healthcare that he’s talking about, it’s health insurance premiums. Even those who pay very little in premiums are still subject to the co-pays and other out of pocket expenses called for by their plan. The graphic on the Obamacare numbers says “government giveaways.” But Kilmeade doesn’t mention that those subsidies that people receive to reduce the cost of their premiums are actually tax credits, just like many big businesses get, only in a much smaller amount. Also, Kilmeade doesn’t mention that those who don’t work don’t get Obamacare subsidies. They would qualify for Medicaid.
The conversation really goes off the rails when Kilmeade mentions the “astronomical” fraud in Social Security Disability. He displays the number of people receiving disability payments but doesn’t say how much fraud supposedly exists in the system. He offers no numbers to back up his statement that fraud is “astronomical.” Those who have looked at the actual numbers, instead of making things up, say that disability fraud is extremely rare.
Morici accurately points out that it is difficult to get approved for Social Security Disability, but then he joins Kilmeade’s nonsense by saying that if you hire a lawyer, you can often get benefits on appeal. OK, but where does the money to hire a lawyer come from? Remember, we’re talking about young men who don’t want to work. How can they afford to hire a lawyer?
It takes a couple of minutes to cut to the chase, but the tired old right wing talking point comes out: the Obama administration is giving people expanded benefits so they will go out and vote for Democrats. Morici says that welfare program create “Obama’s battery powered voters,” whose batteries are “being charged by entitlements, subsidies, and not working.”
Kilmeade ends the segment by saying that there are a lot of people who are working two or three jobs who are watching, and who are “outraged” by people getting benefits they don’t deserve. Do you notice that they never address this one simple question: If these benefits are so easy to get, and if they are better than working, why aren’t people quitting their jobs to apply for them?
Here’s the video, via Media Matters:
Featured image via screen capture from Fox News/Media Matters